Medicare provides health insurance to nearly all Americans age 65 and older, and covers a significant portion of hospital stays, doctor’s visits and prescription drug costs for retirees. Here’s how to make sure you are taking advantage of all that Medicare has to offer.
Sign up on time.
You become eligible to sign up for Medicare during a seven month window that begins three months before you turn 65. If you fail to sign up during this initial enrollment period, your monthly Part B premiums will increase by 10% for each 12-month period of delay.
Special sign-up period for working retirees.
If you remain employed after age 65 and are covered by a group health plan at work, sign up within eight months of leaving the job or the coverage ending to avoid the late enrollment penalty. Retirees who use COBRA or retiree health plans are not eligible for this special enrollment period.
Get your free physicals.
Retirees are eligible for a free “welcome to Medicare” doctor’s appointment during the first 12 months they have Medicare Part B.
Take advantage of preventative care.
Medicare covers a variety of preventative care services without any additional out-of-pocket costs for retirees, including cardiovascular disease screenings, flu shots and bone mass measurements. However, there could be additional costs for retirees if a problem that needs treatment is discovered.
Shop around for a new Part D plan each year.
The premiums, covered medications, out-of-pocket costs and even the Medicare Part D plans offered change each year, so it’s important to compare plans during the annual open enrollment period. Check to see if your current medications will continue to be covered by your existing plan at reasonable rates or if you would be better served by an alternative Part D plan, especially if you expect your medication needs to change in the coming year.