What better way to celebrate a happy retirement than to see loose ends all tied up? One of the many loose ends you will need to pay attention to as you get ready to leave the workforce is your health care. The average American citizen needs health care insurance, especially when retirement is near. If you have been on your employer’s health insurance or on private insurance all this time, now is the best time to consider other health insurance options as you plan your retirement. Are you 65 or older and about to retire? Then, you might want to pay closer attention to Medicare to secure your future health care needs. However, navigating through the different Medicare plans and how they apply to you can be a lot. That’s why in this post, I talk about all the questions you need to ask before you make your Medicare decision today.
What Do I Need to Know About Medicare Before I Retire?
Once you turn 65, you officially become eligible for Medicare. However, if you are only a few months away from turning 65 or are even older but plan to retire soon, there are a few questions you must ask about your Medicare plan. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Can I enroll for Medicare before I retire?
Yes, you can and you should. If you turn 65 before you retire, you become eligible for Medicare. Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) opens 3 months before the month you turn 65 and closes three months after, that is a total of 7 months. Within this period, you can enroll in Medicare.
Exceptionally, some individuals with health conditions like End-Stage Renal Disease diagnosis qualify for Medicare without meeting the age requirement.
What if I am 65 and still working?
If you are 65 and yet to retire, you can still enroll for Medicare. Usually, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A once you turn 65, and because you pay for Medicare Part A through taxes, you don’t have to pay a monthly premium.
However, if you are not automatically signed up for Medicare Plan A, you can easily enroll, it costs you nothing. If you sign up for any part of Medicare while working, Medicare will serve as your secondary insurance, while the insurance from your employer will be your primary healthcare insurance.
Can I enroll for Medicare if I am older than 65 when I retire?
Yes, you can. Usually, seniors are advised to enroll in Medicare once they hit 65. But some situations may lead to delaying the process. If you are still covered by a group health plan provided by your employer when you turn 65, you may choose to delay enrolling for Medicare. Also, if you are still working, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period.
Once your group health plan or the employment on which it is based ends (whichever comes first), your 8-month special enrollment period starts. You must sign up for Medicare within this eight-month window or face penalties in the form of lifelong extra premium charges. Note that this also applies if you are covered under your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan.
However, if your or your spouse’s employer has less than 20 employees, you must enroll for Medicare once you turn 65, even though you are still working. The special enrollment period only applies when your or your spouse’s employer has 20 employees or more and an active group health plan.
To find out more about your eligibility for Medicare special enrollment period, visit Hella Health.
What if I retire before the age of 65?
Medicare is only available to citizens that are 65 and older. If you are less than 65 when you retire and lose your employer’s health insurance, you will have to get other insurance plans. There are a few other options to explore before your Medicare insurance kicks in.
You can leverage retiree health insurance if your employer offers it. You can also benefit from your spouse’s employer group health plan if you’re married.
Another option is COBRA. COBRA is a federal law that allows you to keep your employer’s coverage after you leave your job.
What Factors Should I Consider Before Enrolling for Medicare?
If you are 65 or older and are planning retirement, Medicare must be top on your list of concerns. Health care expenses can quickly become a lot, especially if you are not on any health insurance. However, with Medicare, you are better able to beat down your expenses while getting reliable health care services. Here are a few factors to consider before enrolling for Medicare plans:
- Costs: Medicare is not free. Although Plan A does not cost any money, Plans B and D require a monthly premium. Once you retire and are enrolled in any of those plans, you will have to pay those premiums from your social security check or other sources of income.
- Coverage: Medicare covers most but not all your health services. Find out all that your Medicare plans cover and if you will need additional insurance for other health services you may require.
- Travel: Medicare does not cover care outside the U.S. So if you are retiring outside the U.S., you will need to make other insurance plans.
- Other coverage: Medigap plan and Medicare Advantage plan are other Medicare-related plans that you can explore to better meet your health needs. They offer more coverage and wider options.
As you plan to retire, you need to ensure that you are making the best plan for your health care. Every citizen that is 65 or older is eligible for government-provided Medicare health insurance. Take action and enroll for Medicare today.