Turning 65 means you have reached a great milestone in life. For many Americans, this is where retirement begins. That can bring big changes to your current health coverage.
If you’re about to be 65 (or know someone about to be 65), then it’s time to start thinking about Medicare. If you wait to enroll, you could end up having a Part B penalty. You could also experience a gap in coverage.
Even if you have health insurance through an employer, you should sign up for Part A when you turn 65. If you paid Medicare taxes while you worked, most people do, then you won’t have to pay a premium for Part A of Medicare.
Depending on the health coverage your employer offers, you might want to enroll in Part B of Medicare. Everyone pays a Part B premium, the amount varies depending on income.
Do I Automatically Get Medicare When I Turn 65
Some people will automatically get Part A and Part B of Medicare. If you’re automatically enrolled you should expect to see the red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th Birthday or the 25th month of disability.
Those receiving Social Security Benefits at least 4 months before your 65th Birthday, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you won’t be receiving Social Security Benefits at least 4 months before your 65th birthday, you will need to sign up with Social Security.
How to Sign up for Medicare at age 65
- You can apply online
- You can visit your local Social Security Office
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778)
- or if you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772.
If you wait until the month you turn 65, or the three months after, your Part B coverage will be delayed. This could cause a gap in your coverage and you could be penalized. You do not need to sign up for Medicare every year.
How to Pay Medicare Premiums
Now that you’re signed up for Medicare, you’re probably wondering how to pay your Medicare Premiums. There are different situations you might find yourself in:
- If you receive Social Security your benefits will automatically be deducted.
- You’re receive Railroad benefits or Civil Service benefits your benefits might be automatically deducted, or they may require you to pay a bill. If you do not receive a bill the address for payment is:
- RRB, Medicare Premium Payments. P.O. Box 979024, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
- If you’re entitled to Civil Service benefits but not Social Security benefits you can choose to have your premium deducted from your Civil Service Annuity.
- To have it automatically deducted you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and they will help you arrange this.
Paying the Part A Premium
Most people do not have a Medicare Part A Premium. If you do have to pay out of pocket for your Medicare Part A, you will receive a bill for $422 a month. If you have limited income and resources, your state may help.
You may qualify for Extra Help to pay for some of your out of pocket Medical costs. If you buy Medicare Part A or you owe Part D income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA), you will always get a “Medicare Premium Bill” each month for your premium.
There are Four Ways to Pay your Medicare Premium:
- Pay the bill directly from your bank account through your bank’s online bill payment service. To set this up, call your bank or go to their website.
- Sign up for Medicare Easy Pay. This free service will automatically deduct your premium payments from your checking or savings account each month. They usually deduct the premium from the bank on the 20th of the month.
- You can also pay by check or money order by mailing your Medicare payment coupon and payment to Medicare.
- Pay by debit or credit card by completing the bottom portion of the payment coupon on your Medicare bill, and sign it. You will need to provide the account information as it appears on your debit or credit card and the expiration date. If your credit card has only the month and year for the expiration date on the card, leave the day field blank. Mail your payments to the address above.
Pay Attention to the Type of Bill you Get
On the “Bill” statement if the box in the upper right corner says “This is not a bill”, then your premium amount will be automatically deducted from your bank account each month. You don’t need to do anything.
If the box says, “First Bill”, then this is your very first bill, or you have paid your last bill in full. You need to send in a payment for the total amount shown by the 25th. (Medicare premiums are due by the 25th of the month)
If the billing date on the First Bill is February 27th, send in payment by March 25th. If the box says, “Second Bill”, Medicare didn’t get payment by the due date shown on the First Bill. You need to send in a payment for the total amount shown.
If the box says “Delinquent Bill” Medicare didn’t get the payment by the due date shown on the Second bill. You need to send in payment, so you don’t lose your Medicare coverage. This is the last bill you will get. If you have questions about your bill or the status of your coverage, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
Your Bill from the Railroad Retirement Board
If you are getting billed from the RRB the payment options explained on this page do not apply to you. Your or your bank must mail your premium payments to:
RRB, Medicare Premium Payments
PO Box 979024
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000
Turning 65 and Still Working
Since full retirement age is 66, working until that point has its benefits. You will get 100 percent of your monthly benefit just by waiting. Plus, if you delay receiving retirement benefits until after retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase.
- If your employer has 20 or more employees, you do not need to enroll in Medicare if you don’t want to. Your employer’s group coverage is the primary payer, which means they pay first on healthcare bills you have. You can delay enrollment into Medicare until you stop actively working and retire.
- If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you must sign up for Medicare as soon as you are eligible. If you do not sign up, the group plan can refuse to pay your claims. Then when you finally sign up for Medicare, you will be faced with late enrollment penalties.
If you work for a large company, it’s important that you compare your employer coverage and Medicare. You can have Medicare Part A (which if you paid Medicare taxes while working, Part A has no premium), and your employer group plan at the same time.
If you keep your large employer group coverage, you’ll have a Special Enrollment Period after you leave your job. You qualify to sign up for Part A, Part B, Part D, and a Medicare Supplement plan without penalty.
After you leave your job, you have an eight-month special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare benefits. As well as a Medicare Supplement plan. If you miss this opportunity you could be without coverage for several months.
Suppose you quit working in October and you do not sign up for Medicare. In May, your retiree or COBRA plan realizes you are eligible for Medicare and stops paying your claims. In addition to being without coverage, you will likely pay Medicare late enrollment penalties with your Part B and Part D premiums.
It’s very important to talk to your employer’s benefits coordinator before you decide what to do when turning 65 and continuing to work. Your benefits may change if you enroll in Medicare, even if you just enroll in Part A.
Medicare isn’t all You Should be Thinking About
- Medicare doesn’t cover Long-term home care or residence in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Having a private insurance policy to help pay for these things can be expensive. If you don’t have a policy, your mid-60s is the last age at which buying a new policy is affordable for most people.
- The full retirement age is 66. Then, you can claim your full Social Security retirement benefits without any penalty for continuing to earn an income. Some people reduced the benefits and received Social Security as early as age 62. Others wait until after full retirement age, up to 70 years old, to claim higher benefits. Deciding when it is best to claim Social Security benefits can take a little planning.
- If you have low income and few assets, you could qualify for full medical coverage and direct financial help if you are 65 and over. Medicaid can pay the full cost for long-term home care and nursing home residence. In addition to Social Security benefits, you could receive Supplemental Security Income which would provide small monthly cash assistance.
- Most 65-year old’s still have many years to live. Getting legal documents in order can make sure your wishes are followed. This is in regards to healthcare, including end of life care, ongoing finances and your estate. You should include in these documents an advance medical directive (living will), a power of attorney for finances, and a will.
Do I have to Sign Up for Medicare at 65?
Whether or not you enroll in Medicare when you first become eligible is up to you. If you do not enroll when you are first eligible, you could have to pay a late enrollment penalty. That is if you were without what Medicare considered “Creditable Coverage”.
You can’t enroll in Part D, prescription coverage, without having Part B Medicare effective. Therefore, you would be penalized for late enrollment on Part B and Part D.
Whether you are about to be 65, or have already reached that milestone, you have a lot of important decisions to make. Decisions about healthcare, Medicare, and financial planning.
Medicare can be complicated, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you along the way. For help with decisions involved with signing up for Medicare, give one of our senior Medicare agents a call at the number above. If you’re in the process of enrolling in Part B, make sure to compare rates in your area for a Medicare Supplement plan.