Do You Know When to Apply for Medicare?

It may be sooner than you think!

Baby boomers are continuing to work later in life more than ever before. Working past age 65 can bring benefits, one of which might be an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Even though working 65-year-olds might not need to utilize Medicare in their 60s, failing to enroll can add a permanent premium on certain Medicare costs.

Medicare has four parts. Part A is hospital insurance. Part B is medical insurance to help pay for doctors and medical services not covered by the hospital insurance. Part C is Medicare Advantage, and Part D is prescription drug coverage.

There are multiple opportunities to enroll in Medicare. Medicare’s initial enrollment period begins three months leading up to a person’s 65th  birthday. 65-year-olds who already receive Social Security retirement benefits should be automatically enrolled in Medicare. Individuals who do not yet receive Social Security benefits will not be automatically enrolled, nor will they be given notice for their enrollment in Medicare. That means it is up to the individual to enroll on time—even if he or she does not need to utilize full Medicare coverage yet.

Retirees who are ready to utilize Medicare coverage at age 65 can enroll beginning three months before their 65th birthday. Those who enroll before their 65th birthday can receive Medicare benefits beginning on the first day of their birthday month. Failing to enroll in Medicare Part B during this 3-month period will result in a 10% additional charge on all Medicare Part B costs, for life. Each year that passes adds an additional 10% charge to Part B medical insurance costs.

For 60-somethings still working and receiving healthcare benefits, the Indiana Department of Insurance recommends you enroll in Medicare Part A when you turn 65. For working people, enrollment in Part A is usually free. Then, when you retire, you have 8 months to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalties.

Remember, Medicare is meant to pay only a portion of participant’s medical expenses. Not every medical expense is covered under Medicare, and participants are still responsible for costs including deductibles and copayments. For more information, contact the Indiana Department of Insurance or the Indiana State Health Insurance Assistance Program, which provides free counseling services regarding Medicare. To enroll in Medicare, contact or visit your local Social Security office.