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TURNING 65 IN 2020? SHOULD MEDICARE BE IN YOUR PLANS?

It used to be that 65 was retirement age.  But for Baby Boomers it isn't that simple.  If you were born in 1955 for example, the "full retirement age" is 66 and 2 months to collect full Social Security benefits.  As a result, many will still be working in 2020 and not planning retirement until 2021.  However, Medicare options are still available at age 65.  The question is do you want to start Medicare, and do you have to?

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU TURN 65...

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DO YOU CURRENTLY HAVE INSURANCE THROUGH YOUR EMPLOYER OR YOUR SPOUSE'S EMPLOYER?

Check with your employer to be sure that it is considered “creditable coverage”.  Also, find out what happens to your employer coverage when you're eligible for Medicare.  For example, employer coverage might not pay your medical costs during any period in which you were eligible for Medicare but didn't sign up for it. For some, when you become eligible for Medicare, you may need to enroll in both Medicare Part A and Part B to get full benefits from your employer coverage.  It is important that you talk with your employer about your benefits and Medicare.

If you are happy with the coverage, you don’t need to start Medicare while the employer coverage is active and is considered “creditable”. But as soon as the employer coverage is no longer available, it is important that you make your Medicare choices. 

HAVE YOU BEEN COLLECTING YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS FOR AT LEAST FOUR MONTHS?

 If you have, chances are good that your Medicare card will be sent to you before your 65th birthday and will start effective the first of the month of your birth. (Example: June 14th birthday, coverage will start June 1st) You will also receive notice that you will have the cost of Medicare Part B deducted from your Social Security starting the month of your birth. In 2020 that cost is $144.60/month.  If your birthday is on the first of the month your benefits will start the first of the month before your birth month. (Example: July 1st birthday, coverage will start June 1st)  If you have "Creditable Coverage" elsewhere, and don't want to start Medicare Part B, you will need to follow the instructions on your new Medicare Card. You need to return it before the date on the card; otherwise you will be charged for Part B.  You will still have Part A and will get a new card showing you only have Part A.

ARE YOU CURRENTLY ON AN INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN?

You will need to enroll in Medicare Part A and B if you want to change to Medicare. This can be done online or at a local Social Security office.

ARE YOU CURRENTLY UNINSURED?

It is important that you enroll in Medicare Part A and B when you turn 65. If you don’t enroll when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a Late Enrollment Penalty when you do, and may have to wait to begin coverage, creating a larger gap in coverage.

ARE YOU A VETERAN?

First, Thank You for your service! If you are eligible for Medicare Part A and have TRICARE or CHAMPVA, you must enroll in Medicare Part B to keep your TRICARE or CHAMPVA coverage. Failure to do so could lead to a Late Enrollment Penalty and further gap in coverage. If you have only Veteran’s benefits, you should enroll in Medicare when you are first eligible. (at age 65 or the end of an employer or other “credible” coverage).

ARE YOU CURRENTLY ON COBRA OR RETIREE COVERAGE?

When employment ends, many are offered retirement or COBRA coverage. COBRA coverage is a continuation of your health insurance through the employer’s plan and often runs for 18 months after employment ends. It is important that you investigate your Medicare options when you turn 65 or within 6 months of the end of your employment. You only have 8 months to enroll in Medicare Part B without a Late Enrollment Penalty, even if you are on COBRA.