Medicare first-timer checklist

7 easy steps

If you’re approaching your 65th birthday, you’re probably already experiencing a Medicare information overload. A stack of mail and constant phone calls may only serve to muddy the Medicare waters. We understand where you are, so we want to offer honest advice that will make the process of how to get Medicare easier for you. In this Medicare checklist, we outline the seven steps you’ll want to check off your to-do list before deciding what best fits your Medicare needs and how to properly become a Medicare beneficiary.

1. Gather all of your personal health information.

As you navigate through your Medicare options, you’ll want this information close at hand. This will help avoid any potential delays in obtaining full coverage. Be sure to gather the following items:

  • Social Security number
  • Other insurance plans and policy numbers
  • Contact information for health care providers
  • List of current prescriptions
  • List of current and previous health conditions
  • Financial and legal information

2. Spend some time researching the basics of Medicare and its various parts.

A great starting place is our Medicare Resource Center and blog. Here are some quick basic facts:

  • Part A is Hospital Insurance
  • Part B is Doctor’s Office Insurance
  • Part C is Medicare Advantage Plans
  • Part D is prescription drug coverage.
  • Medicare Supplement Plans, or Medigap Plans, help cover the gaps in coverage beyond Part A and Part B. These federally standardized plans help cover expenses such as coinsurance, copayments, deductibles, and emergency foreign travel expenses.

3. Identify when your Initial Enrollment Period is for enrolling in Medicare.

  • Most people will automatically enroll into Medicare Part A and Part B the first day of the month in which they turn 65.
  • People under 65 receiving Social Security disability benefits must receive these benefits for 24 months prior to enrolling in Medicare.
  • If you need further assistance identifying this period, contact your local Social Security office.

4. Assess your current employer benefits or your spouse’s current employer coverage if either of you plan to work past age 65.

  • Depending on the associated costs of your employer-based group health plan, you may or may not want to begin Medicare at age 65. When in doubt about your current coverage, contact your employer’s HR department.
  • Understand how working past age 65 may affect you and how Medicare and employer health coverage work together.

5. Check to see if your doctor accepts Medicare.

  • If they do, they have to accept whatever Medicare Supplement plan you choose. Remember that all Medicare Supplement Plans are standardized by the Federal Government, so there is no difference in the eyes of your doctor or specialist.
  • With Medicare Advantage plans, you will likely have a provider network. Simply ask your doctor if they accept the insurance carrier you are a considering.

6. Calculate costs per month and per year you can afford to spend on premiums, copays, and deductibles.

Identifying this cost will help you better understand what plans and rates will best suit your health needs and budget. We recently ran a case study of our clients and found that comparison shopping definitely pays.

7. Investigate your options with a licensed advisor who can comparison shop rates from all the top-rated carriers in your area.

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