5 things to know about Medicare before age 65

If your 65th birthday is approaching, it will pay to familiarize yourself with the Medicare system. Here are five things you need to know now!

Apply early, avoid additional fees
You can sign up for Medicare three months before you turn 65, or up through three months after your 65th birthday. However, it’s in your best interest to apply early, even if you don’t need the coverage on your 65th birthday. If you don’t sign up then, you’re still eligible for benefits. For every 12-month period you’re eligible for Medicare, but don’t sign up, you’ll pay more on your premiums. If you’re currently part of an employer group health plan, sign up within eight months of leaving the job to avoid the higher premiums.

You’re automatically renewed under your current plan each year, but it’s a good idea to look at what else is out there. So, do your homework to ensure you receive the coverage you need at the price you want.

Don’t go it alone
Depending on where you live, there are about 20 different Medicare Advantage plans, upward of 35 drug plans and a wide variety of supplemental plans. That’s in addition to traditional Medicare.  Search for Medicare counselors in North Carolina to help you find the coverage to meet your specific needs by visiting SHIIP.

You may need a supplemental plan
Medicare acts as a basic insurance plan, but many retirees have additional out-of-pocket expenses, just like any other health plan. Supplemental coverage with Medicare Advantage or a Medigap plan will help to defer some of that cost.

There is a six-month period beginning the month you turn 65 that guarantees your acceptance into a Medigap plan, regardless of any pre-existing conditions. After that, your case is evaluated based on your current health. That may mean denial of coverage or high premiums. Again, it pays to sign up on time.

Preventive care is covered
Medicare offers a preventive care visit within your first 12 months in the system. After your first year with Medicare, you’re eligible for yearly wellness visits in addition to other preventive procedures.

Medicare works with other coverage
If you have a current health plan, Medicare works with that plan under coordination of benefits rules. Your primary plan will cover costs up to the plan limits. Then your secondary plan will pay the costs the primary plan didn’t. There may still be out-of-pocket expenses based on your coverage. This is why it’s important to take advantage of supplemental coverage.

Finally, do your homework and sign up early for Medicare to avoid unnecessary price increases that will last the rest of your life.

Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit Union.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact a financial advisor for additional guidance.