Healthcare is one of retirement’s toughest financial challenges. Since 1965, Original Medicare (better known as Medicare Part A + Medicare Part B coverage) has helped cover basic health needs for most individuals age 65 and above. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is your first chance to sign up for Medicare and it starts three months before your 65th
birthday, includes your birthday month, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. You will receive premium-free Medicare Part A
(Hospital Insurance) if you or your spouse have worked at least 10 years and have paid your Medicare tax liabilities. If you worked less than 7 ½ years (30 quarters) then your premium for Part A would be $426, and if you worked 30-39 quarters your premium would be $234 per month. Medicare Part B
(Medical Insurance) has a standard monthly premium of $104.90 (year 2014). Some people may pay a higher premium based on their income or if they do not enroll when they are first eligible. If you do not sign up for Part B during your IEP, then your next chance to enroll would be during General Enrollment between January 1st
each year. If you enroll during the General Enrollment Period, then your coverage will start July 1st
of that year, and you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Do I have to enroll? Or am I automatically signed up for Medicare coverage?
If you are receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) then in most cases you will automatically get Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday falls on the first of the month, then you will receive benefits at the start of the prior month. If you have a disability, you will automatically get Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months. If you have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), you will automatically get Part A and Part B the month your disability benefits begin. If you live in Puerto Rico and get benefits from Social Security or the RRB, you will automatically get Part A, but will have to sign up for Part B. If you are automatically enrolled, you will receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th
birthday or your 25th
month of disability. If you are automatically enrolled, yet do not wish to keep your Part B coverage, then you will have to follow the instructions that come with the card, and send the card back. If you keep the card, you keep Part B and will pay Part B premiums. Part B premiums will be automatically deducted from your monthly benefits. If you qualify for Medicare because you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you will have to sign up for Medicare along with everyone else that does not fall into one of the categories listed above. Once enrolled in a Medicare plan, you will receive an “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) each year, usually in the fall. The EOC gives you details about what the plan covers, how much you pay, and more. How can I sign up for Part A & Part B coverage?