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A Brief Guide to Medicare at 65

iStock_000004401053XSmallWhen you turn 65, you may be eligible for Medicare. However, there are several options available, and you’ll have to make some careful decisions in order to get the healthcare plan that is right for you. The following is a brief guide to help you sort through your options.

Do I have to retire first? No, you do not have to stop working in order to receive Medicare. Many people continue working past age 65, and make a decision on Medicare based on their healthcare needs as well as their current insurance situation. If you currently have employer-sponsored health insurance, you may choose not to sign up for Medicare, or to sign up for only part of the plan.

When do I sign up? You can enroll at any time three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday, up until three months after your birthday month.

If you’re planning to retire, you need to enroll in Medicare within 63 days of the end of your employer-sponsored healthcare plan. It’s better to enroll ahead of time, though, to avoid a gap in coverage.

If you’re going to continue working, you don’t have to enroll in Medicare. But since a Medicare plan could help you save money on medical expenses, talk to your benefits administrator. Medicare Part A is free, while Part B carries a monthly premium based on your income. In some cases, it only makes sense to enroll in Part A until you retire.

If you don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance, you should enroll in Part A and Part B (Original Medicare).

When can I make changes to my coverage? Your healthcare needs may change drastically from one year to the next. Each year you can make changes to your Medicare coverage during the Open Enrollment Period, from October 15 to December 7. This is the time to review your healthcare needs, such as upcoming surgeries and new medications, to see if a different plan would work better for you.

What about my dependents? Whether or not you continue to work, your spouse and dependents may be eligible for COBRA. Check with your benefits administrator.

For more information on Medicare, click here to download a free information sheet.