When retirement finally comes, it may bring changes into your life. While you may enjoy some time to travel or spend time with family, you may find changes when it comes to your health insurance as well. If you are retiring at the age of 65, you will qualify for Medicare, so it is important to know the benefits you are eligible for, your potential options for health insurance, and when you can sign up for them.

When Do You Become Eligible for Medicare?

People can qualify for Medicare at the age of 65. This insurance is available for individuals under the age of 65, but only for those who have a permanent disability or who suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease. If you do have a permanent disability, you will also need to have received social security benefits for more than two years to become eligible.

When retiring at the age of 65, it will help to understand the coverage you’ll  automatically receive and what coverage you may need to enroll in. It is important to sign up for Medicare as soon as the eligibility period opens, which occurs three months prior to your 65th birthday. It will apply during the month of your 65th birthday, and three months after your birthday. By applying for Medicare early on in the enrollment period, you will help ensure that you do not have any gaps in coverage and that you can start receiving your health benefits as soon as possible.

What Medicare Benefits Can You Receive?

Original Medicare is the federal program available to all individuals eligible for Medicare. It includes Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A and Part B can both be selected upon enrollment, or Part B can be declined if a person so chooses. However, most Medicare recipients choose to enroll in Part B when they are first eligible to avoid paying late enrollment fees later on.

Medicare Part A is responsible for covering inpatient expenses, including overnight stays in in a hospital if you are formally admitted after surgery, during long-term hospital admissions, hospice care, skilled nursing facilities, and other similar services. Part A is standard for all Medicare recipients, and the premium payment is determined by the amount of time you have paid Medicare taxes. If you have worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, you will not have a Part A premium payment. However, if you have worked less than 10 years, you will be required to pay a monthly premium.

Part B covers outpatient expenses and preventive care, such as annual checkups, diagnostic testing, ambulance services, and studies. Part B requires a monthly premium payment and can be declined upon eligibility. However, it is good to keep in mind that if you do decline Part B coverage initially and decide you want to enroll later, you may experience a delay in coverage and a higher premium payment will be required.

In addition to Medicare Part A and Part B, you can sign up for a Medicare Part D or Part C plan as well. Medicare Part D focuses solely on prescription drug coverage and can be very beneficial for individuals that use many medications daily or may require prescription medications in the future.

Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage, and these plans are provided through private insurance companies. They include the same benefits as Part A and B, but they may also provide benefits for prescription drug coverage and additional services, such as dental, vision, and hearing. You should be sure to check all your potential options before selecting a Medicare plan.

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