Since most older adults rely on Medicare to pay for their healthcare, it is an extremely important part of your retirement. As a result, many folks have questions about how Medicare works, how much it costs, and when they can sign up. While Medicare may seem complex, it is actually one of the easiest ways to get health coverage for those who are 65 or older. In any case, Time for 65 wants to answer the top 5 most common Medicare questions.

What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?

What is Medicare? Medicare is a form of healthcare insurance provided by the federal government. You qualify for Medicare if you’re 65 or older and have worked for at least 40 quarters (approximately 10 years). In some cases, you can qualify for Medicare early or through a spouse, even if you don’t have the necessary work history. Original Medicare is composed of Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Outpatient Insurance).

Alternatively, Medicaid is a state and federally-funded healthcare program for low-income individuals. You can qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, in which case they will work together to help you pay for medical treatment. Your eligibility for Medicaid will depend on the state in which you live. That said, you will generally be evaluated on your age, income, and the size of your household.

How Much is Taken Out of My Social Security Check for Medicare?

If you’re enrolled in Medicare and receiving Social Security, your Medicare premiums are generally taken out of your Social Security check automatically. While most older adults qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, you will need to pay your Medicare Part B premium. As of 2020, the monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $144.60. Therefore, you can expect Medicare to take $144.60 out of your Social Security check each month. However, this does not include any additional or supplemental insurance you pay for, like Medicare Part D or Medigap.

What Happens If I Don’t Sign Up During My ‘New to Medicare’ Period?

If you miss the seven-month period (starting in the month of your 65th birthday) to sign up for Medicare, you may face a delay in your coverage. You might also have to pay penalty fees when you do sign up. However, if you start receiving your Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you don’t need to worry about enrolling on time. The Social Security Administration will automatically enroll you in Original Medicare.

Can I Keep my Employer-Sponsored Health Plan If I Work Past 65?

If you are enrolled in a group healthcare insurance plan sponsored by your employer, then you can keep this plan past 65. You will not incur any penalties for enrolling in Medicare “late” as long as you are still working and your employer continues to sponsor your healthcare. However, you should enroll in Medicare as soon as you stop working so that you don’t have a lapse in coverage.

Can I Switch Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage During the Annual Enrollment Period?

There are two periods during which you can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. You can switch plans anytime between January 1st and March 31st every year. Additionally, you can switch plans during the Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15th to December 7th.

Bottom Line

Switching from private health insurance to Original Medicare can seem daunting. However, it’s something that most Americans will need to do at some point in their lives. That’s why it’s so important to stay up-to-date on the latest Medicare information.

Fortunately, figuring out how Medicare works doesn’t need to be a pain. If you are unsure about your options or have more questions about Medicare, feel free to fill out the form or give us a call to speak with our licensed insurance brokers today.