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When I’m 64……

A favorite of so many baby boomers. Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the song “When I’m 64”. As baby boomers reach age 64, “When I’m 64” has a new health care meaning: Applying for Medicare.

But if you’re not yet age 65, why do you have to think about applying for Medicare?  What’s the hurry? You’re feeling good, you’re 64, you have post- retirement health insurance.

Not exactly. Not applying for Medicare on a timely basis can impact your premiums for years to come. How does that work and what are the deadlines with which you need to be concerned? Suppose you’re still working and are covered by your employer’s plan? Should you get a notice from Medicare? Lots of questions…

First, and maybe foremost, you won’t get a notice that it’s time to enroll, unless you began receiving social security prior to age 65. So, it’s important to understand your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and what circumstances allow for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Part B is the trickiest and missing a deadline can have the most significant impact in the future.  Here’s a quick look at what you can do when you’re 64.

For most individuals, the IEP begins three months prior to your 65th birthday, includes the month of your 65th birthday and extends three months past your 65th birthday for a seven month total IEP. To avoid late penalties, sign up for Parts A and B if you are covered by an individual plan (nonemployer), post-retirement health benefit, COBRA, or if you are working and your employer has fewer than 20 employees. For most people, Part A is premium free; it is the Part B premiums (and perhaps Part D) that have late enrollment penalties.

What is also critical to note is that under the above circumstances, Medicare is considered the primary coverage. Other types of health insurance will only pay AFTER Medicare, so that missing your IEP can result in your becoming uninsured.

Can you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period? If you’re still working for an employer with more than 20 employees and are covered by an employer sponsored health plan, or you are covered by a spouse’s health insurance plan, you will be entitled to a SEP. The SEP allows you to enroll in Medicare eight months (including the month you retire) after your retirement. Coordinating effective dates is of utmost importance so you don’t find yourself without coverage.

This is just the beginning of Medicare. When you’re 64, you’ll be faced with these and other health insurance decisions. Don’t wait until you’re 65.

For additional information, contact EAB HealthWorks.

For additional information, contact EAB HealthWorks.