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Making the Move to Medicare

For people nearing the age of 65 and eligibility for Medicare coverage, many questions loom. Recent changes to the system have added to the confusion. Medicare Supplement Shop seeks to clear it up.

“There is no need for concern when it comes to Medicare plans,” says Medicare Supplement Shop CEO Jill Roberson. “The big change this year is when open enrollment begins, which is about a month earlier than previous years. In 2011, open enrollment will begin in mid-October and continue through the first week of December.”

That change of open enrollment should have little impact, Roberson says. The enrollment process itself will be the same as in previous years. Roberson recommends keeping five critical things in mind when turning 65 and making the move to Medicare.

1. Medicare Part A & Part B: Medicare Part A is available to everyone 65 years of age or older. Part A covers all inpatient care and most recipients do not pay a premium for this. Medicare Part B is also available to those over 65 and covers outpatient care; most recipients will pay a premium for Part B services.

2. Is there currently an employer health plan providing coverage? If people are on an employer plan, they are not required to enroll in Medicare; however the employer’s plan can act as secondary coverage to Medicare. When making the decision to stay on an employer’s plan or move completely to Medicare, it is best to learn about Medicare’s premiums and benefits, then compare it to the employer’s plan. If people choose to cancel their employer’s plan and move completely to Medicare, it is important to consider Medicare supplemental plans.

3. When should people enroll in Medicare? There is no need to begin the Medicare enrollment process sooner than three months prior to turning 65. Enrolling in Medicare Part A and B 90 days before the birth date will ensure that coverage begins on the day a person turns 65. If people are not on an employer plan and are shopping for a Medicare-supplement plan, they should begin to look for that one month prior to turning 65. That will ensure they are covered on their 65th birthday.

4. Do people need a prescription drug-plan? Prescription-drug plans are not necessary for all individuals. For those who have high prescription-drug costs or multiple prescriptions, a Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan helps to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. If an individual has expensive prescriptions or multiple medications, a Part D prescription-drug plan is in their best interest. To find the most affordable plan, ask a Medicare-supplement sales agent to do a prescription-drug plan comparison report.

5. When is a Medicare-supplement plan necessary? If someone is 65 years of age or older and is not on an employer’s healthcare plan, Medicare-supplement plans are essential to fill the gaps in Medicare coverage. Medicare-supplement plans vary in price and coverage based on the health of each individual and location.

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