When to start thinking about Medicare

before retirement

Enrolling in Medicare is a milestone granted with the benchmark age of 65. If you are less than a year from approaching your 65th birthday, then it is time to start thinking about Medicare. The earlier you do, the more you may benefit from it in upcoming years.

If you miss the Initial Enrollment Period, (read below) you will likely end up paying more for Medicare. That’s why it is best to start planning for it as early as possible before you reach the age of 65.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait

1. Full Retirement Age

The full retirement age is 66, but you should not wait until then to enroll in Medicare. Medicare has an Initial Enrollment Period that triggered by your 65th birthday. You should not delay Medicare until age 66 regardless of how healthy you may be. It is best to have health insurance in case a health issue crops up. As even the young are encouraged to enroll in a health insurance plan, seniors are more vulnerable and in need of steady health insurance.

The only case for waiting to enroll in Medicare at age 66 is if you receive health insurance after you’ve turned 65 from you or your spouse’s job.

2. Waiting on the Government

As important a life choice as signing up for healthcare is, do not expect to be reminded to do so. Waiting for the government to mail you a letter notifying you to sign up for Medicare is of no use.

The government will only come into the picture if you receive Social Security benefits at the time right before your 65th birthday. In this case, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare. But if not, then it is best to remind yourself to enroll.

3. Open Enrollment

Some soon-to-be Medicare beneficiaries wait until the Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period, which falls on October 15 – December 7, to enroll. This is the wrong time to sign up if you are a Medicare first timer. This period is intended only for those who already have Medicare–the beneficiaries–to make changes in their Medicare coverage and it is optional even for them.

Thus, do not hold off enrolling in Medicare when you near age 65. Doing so for any of the above reasons will incur penalties and extra costs. So, when you should start the enrollment process? Check out the specific time periods for those starting Medicare for the first time.


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