5 Things to Look for When It’s Time to Start Medicare

Transitioning into Medicare can be a grueling process. There is much you should research before it is even time to enroll in Medicare, too. The more you learn before starting Medicare, the easier your transition into your new health insurance will be. While there are many things to look for when it gets close to you starting Medicare, here are the top five. 

1. Your enrollment periods

Medicare has various enrollment periods, some of which occur at the same time each year for every beneficiary. However, other enrollment periods are unique to you, such as your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP revolves around your 65th birthday month. It starts three months before your 65th birthday month, continues through your birthday month, and ends three months later. 

Most people need to enroll in both Part A and Part B during their IEP. However, this varies by situation. For instance, if you continue working past 65, you may not need to enroll during your IEP. Other enrollment periods you should be aware of include but aren’t limited to your Initial Election Period, Medigap Open Enrollment window, and Annual Election Period.

2. Your Medicare plan options

There are two main types of Medicare plan options you’ll want to consider: Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap plans. These types of plans are very different from one another, so it’s important to further your knowledge on how each plan works, that way, you make an educated decision when enrolling in a plan.

You’ll also want to research which type of plan you want before your transition into Medicare begins because you have special enrollment periods in which you need to apply for these plans. For example, after your one-time six-month Medigap Open Enrollment ends, you won’t have guaranteed issue rights for a Medigap plan and will likely have to answer health questions. 

3. Your Medicare cards and paperwork

As you near Medicare age, and even after, you are bombarded with mailed solicitations. With all these mailers, it’s easy to want to chunk it all in the trash. However, you should be on the lookout for your Original Medicare and Medicare plan ID cards and paperwork.

If you start receiving Social Security benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you will be auto-enrolled in Part A and Part B. In this case, you will be mailed a Medicare packet full of the information you’ll need to keep, including your ID care. Watch for this mailer to make sure you don’t throw it away. 

4. Your Coordination of Benefits

One of the most common issues new Medicare beneficiaries experience is their coordination of benefits. After you retire and lose employer coverage, your employer is supposed to notify Medicare that Medicare has become your primary insurance and that you are no longer covered by employer coverage. However, employers often miss this step, causing beneficiaries to have issues with their first Medicare bills.

You’ll want to call Medicare before you receive your first medical service under your new insurance to verify whether Medicare knows they are primary. Once Medicare has it noted that it is your primary coverage, you can receive your services without the worry of wrongful claim denial.

5. Your Annual Notice of Change

The Annual Election Period (AEP) happens each year from October 15th until December 7th. During this time, you can change, enroll in, or drop Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Because these two types of plans can change from year to year, you will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) in September informing you of your plan’s changes.

As the AEP approaches, carriers and agents are fighting for your business, so you will receive more unwanted mailings. But again, before you throw these mailings away, be sure to sift through the envelopes until you find your ANOC from your current carrier. Review your ANOC, so you know whether you need to change plans during the AEP or not.

As you can see, there are a lot you should be on the lookout for before, during, and after you start Medicare. Remember, the more research you do beforehand, the easier your transition into Medicare will be.