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Preparing for Medicare Enrollment

With all the options available to you, the Medicare enrollment process can seem overwhelming, especially if you leave important decisions to the last minute. To help ensure that you make the best Medicare choices, here are some steps to take before you turn 65.

Mark your calendar
If you won't be enrolled in Medicare automatically when you turn 65, you'll need to keep these key dates in mind:

  • You're first eligible to enroll during the three months before your 65th birthday or during the three months after you turn 65.
  • If you miss the first deadline, you can enroll between January 1 and March 31 every year, but you may have to pay a penalty for late enrollment.
  • If you're currently covered by group insurance through an employer or a spouse's employer, you may qualify to enroll without penalty while you are covered by a group health plan or during the eight-month period that begins the month after your employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever comes first.

Research Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans
Look into how Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans work and decide if either type of plan would benefit you. Here's an overview:

  • Medigap policies can help pay for some of the costs that original Medicare doesn't cover (e.g., copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). Medigap policies require you to pay premiums, which are standardized according to federal and state laws.
  • Medicare Advantage plans provide Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage, but not Original Medicare. For more information, visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx.

Talk to your providers
It's essential to double-check that your health care providers accept Medicare and that they accept assignment, which means that they will restrict their fees to the Medicare limit. To locate doctors near you who accept assignment, use Medicare's provider search, available at www.medicare.gov/find-a-doctor/provider-search.aspx.

Seek advice from a trusted resource
Enrolling in Medicare doesn't have to be confusing or frustrating. A knowledgeable financial advisor can guide you through the enrollment process, answering any questions you may have and helping you get the most out of your new benefits. By planning ahead and working with a trusted advisor, you'll pave the way for a smooth transition to Medicare.


2013 Commonwealth Financial Network