Every year, older adults who qualify for Medicare can sign up during the annual Open Enrollment Period. Doing so ensures that you will have Medicare coverage for the following calendar year. However, many folks are unsure when they can (and cannot) sign up. With the 2020 enrollment period approaching fast, people need answers to their Medicare-related questions. Fortunately, Time for 65 has a few tips to help you prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment and get the health coverage you need.

1. See If You Qualify

In order to qualify for Original Medicare, you will need to meet a few basic requirements. The majority of Medicare enrollees need to be at least 65 years or older. Additionally, you must have worked for at least 40 quarters (about ten years) over the course of your adult life. Finally, you must either be a legal US citizen or a permanent resident.

There are a few exceptions to the work requirement. For example, if you have a spouse that qualifies through their work history, you can qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A as well. However, you will still need to enroll in Part B on your own.

2. Know the Dates

This one is pretty simple, as the Medicare Open Enrollment Period typically does not change. Every year, you can enroll in Medicare between October 15th and December 7th. If you miss the deadline, you will need to wait until next year’s Open Enrollment Period to sign up.

3. Learn How to Sign Up

Signing up can get a little complicated. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits and you qualify for Medicare, the Social Security Administration will automatically sign you up for Medicare Part A and Part B. All you have to do is start paying the premiums.

However, if you are not getting Social Security benefits and want to enroll, you will need to do it on your own. Fortunately, the process is not overly complicated. You can learn more about signing up for Medicare with one of Time for 65’s licensed insurance brokers.

4. Know Your Options

Not everyone wants to stick with Original Medicare. Fortunately, you have a lot of different options. You can keep your Original Medicare and add additional coverage, like Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage and Medigap for out-of-pocket expenses.

Alternatively, you can get the same benefits as Medicare through a private insurance broker. This is known as Medicare Advantage. With a Medicare Advantage plan, you get the same benefits as Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D. Additionally, Medicare Advantage often provides additional coverage for dental, hearing, vision, and wellness checkups.

5. Know the Costs

Though Medicare does give older adults access to affordable healthcare, it’s not free. Most beneficiaries will qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, but Part B still requires a monthly premium ($144.60 in 2020). Additionally, you’ll need to meet your deductibles for Part A ($1,408) and Part B ($198) before Medicare starts contributing.

Even if you’d paid your premiums and met your deductibles, you’ll still have to pay 20% of your treatment costs, in addition to other out-of-pocket expenses and copayments. Thus, one of the best ways to prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment is to set aside funds for your medical treatment.

Bottom Line

Getting ready for Medicare Open Enrollment requires you to know a little bit about how Medicare works ahead of time. Otherwise, you could be surprised by high premiums or various coverage options. Fortunately, if you do your homework ahead of time, you’ll have no trouble signing up for Medicare during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

If you still have questions about Medicare Open Enrollment or Medicare coverage in general, feel free to fill out the form or give us a call to speak with our licensed insurance brokers today.