Key Points in Making Your Decision
There are many choices for health coverage in the Medicare system.
You are eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital care)and Part B (doctor visits) when you turn 65. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare.
Otherwise, you can sign up during the 3 months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and the following 3 months. If you were automatically enrolled, you can opt out of Part B if you don't want to keep it, but there are financial consequences for doing so.
Consider the following when making your decision:
- If you are covered by other health insurance now, such as health benefits offered through your job, there is no penalty if you defer Part B (doctor visits) until you or your spouse retires and loses work-based coverage.
- If you are not covered by other insurance, and you do not sign up for Part B (or keep it if you were automatically enrolled), you will pay a penalty for signing up late, which will increase your costs for life.
- If you have Part B, you can buy extra insurance to cover health care costs that the traditional Medicare plan does not cover.
Either a Medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage plan can help fill in the gaps in coverage.