By Paul Breslau Breslau Insurance & Benefits Inc.
Transitioning from your prime of life to your senior years at age 65 is a process. You should start planning, saving and investing in your younger years. If you are in these young years, continue using your financial planner or contact us for ideas, options and implementations. This includes strategies for Social Security optimization and investment diversification.
Our new 65az.com website focuses on actions to take as you turn 65. This is when Medicare becomes available for most Americans. This article matches the website content, although the website has information on agents who specialize in Medicare as well as an information request form.
Sign up for Medicare Part B
Two or three months before your 65th birthday month, most people should register for Medicare Part B. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A.
This is a link to the Medicare overview page: medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/get-started-with-medicare
This is a link to the actual Part B sign-up page: secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/rib
Note that you need an online account at Social Security to enroll to Medicare Part B. You do not have to retire or take Social Security income payments to have this account. If you have not already done so, please register for your Social Security Online Account on this link: ssa.gov/myaccount/create.html
This account provides access to valuable information for you. For example, there is an annual report with estimated Social Security retirement payments at various ages. We can help you if needed.
Choose one of two Medicare options
Your Medicare coverage will be effective on the first day of your birthday month. Pertaining to Medicare, you have a choice between two distinctly different ways to proceed.
Option 1: Keep the Medicare Part A Plan for which you are automatically enrolled and take the Medicare Part B Plan for which you enrolled. Then apply for a Medicare Supplement Plan from BlueCross, UnitedHealthcare or another. Also apply for a Medicare Part D prescription plan from one of the many companies offering them. Premiums for these plans increase yearly as you age. These plans have a premium every month, and they cover more as you use services compared to Option 2 below.
Option 2: Enroll to a Medicare Advantage Plan from one of the many insurance companies offering them. This Medicare Advantage Plan will replace everything in Option 1 and is known as Part C. Before applying to an Advantage Plan, you still need to register for Medicare Part B two or three months in advance of your 65th birthday. These plans tend to cost less, and some provide extra services. However, most Medicare Advantage plans have provider networks limited to a specific area. They also may require referrals and preauthorizations.
Your Medicare future
At the end of each calendar year, you will have the ability to change whatever Medicare Plan you selected when you turned age 65. This is called the open enrollment period, and in 2020 it runs from October 15 to December 7. To make a change, please consult with the Medicare expert who helped you originally. You can also contact us for help or a referral.
However, if you do not want to make a change, there is no action to take. Your plan will automatically renew from year to year.
Again, please reach out to your local agent who specializes in Medicare or to us if you have questions or need assistance.
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Paul Breslau—registered health underwriter, registered employee benefit consultant, chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant and chartered adviser for senior living—is president of Breslau Insurance & Benefits Inc.