UNITED STATES—Toni, I turn 65 in March and overwhelmed by the overload of marketing calls/mail I am getting regarding enrolling in Medicare. Each company says theirs is the best, but they all offer the same thing with dental, vision and gym membership.
Everybody says if I do not enroll in Medicare at the right time, I will get a penalty that will last the rest of my life. How does someone know what is the right decision for their Medicare? I look forward to your answer. Monty from Pittsburgh, PA
Monty, the answer to your question is you do NOTHING!!! NADA!!! during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (aka Medicare’s “Open Enrollment”) because you are not 65 and won’t be enrolled in Medicare until March.
Next year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (aka Medicare’s Open Enrollment) is when you, Monty, can make a change to your Part D plan, change, or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with or without a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
You MUST have already turned 65 or be under 65 and enrolled in Medicare to enroll or change either a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (aka Medicare’s Open Enrollment).
Monty, since you are turning 65 in March, you will be in your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period –the 7-month period that begins three months prior to March, the month of March and three months after. December is three months prior to March, which is a good time to begin enrolling in Medicare and exploring which Medicare option best fits your specific medical and prescription drug needs.
Talk with your medical providers to discover what type of Medicare plan whether Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug plan or Original/Traditional Medicare with a Medicare Supplement and a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan is right for your health situation and the prescriptions you are taking.
As we say at the Toni Says Medicare office, “Medicare is not cookie cutter, one size or plan does not fit everyone.” The insurance companies market their specific Medicare plans and want you to believe that theirs is perfect for you.
Marketing by commercials on TV by Medicare Advantage plans (not disclosed on the TV commercial) that return money back on your Social Security check such as the “Give-Back” are based on your income and not automatically approved. Always talk with your healthcare professional when you are planning to make a major Medicare insurance change, because that provider or doctor’s office may or may not be in that specific Medicare Advantage plan’s network. (Chapter 1 of Toni’s Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition discusses in depth how to enroll in Medicare whether turning 65 or still working past 65.)
Toni Says Alert: Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (aka Medicare Open Enrollment or AEP) is for those who are under 65 on Social Security Disability or are already 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare. You do not have to make a change during the AEP if you are pleased with your current plan such as Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Part D Prescription drug plan or Medicare Supplement.
Concerned that your medical providers or facilities are not accepting the Medicare Advantage plan which you are considering? There are specific Medicare rules when changing from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement. Please beware! With Medicare, it’s what you DON’T know that will HURT YOU!
Call the Toni Says Medicare hotline at (832) 519-8664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a Medicare question. Toni’s books are available at www.tonisays.com with a bundle discount for Toni Says readers.