Whether or not you get automatic Medicare enrollment, there are a few options to weigh when deciding what type of coverage you need and how much of it you will use. When selecting a Medicare plan, it is important to look at your health care needs by asking yourself a few questions.
Read on to learn about a few of the considerations you should take when applying for Medicare. Below, you will also find information on when you can enroll in Medicare and how to avoid paying a penalty fee for late enrollment.
In order to choose the right Medicare plan, be sure to have answers to the following:
- Do I want to keep my current doctor? If so, you may want to select a plan that allows you to continue to see them.
- Do I have in-network options near me? If you live in a rural area where there are fewer options, you may want to select a plan that gives you more freedom.
- What are my current prescription and medical needs? Medicare lets you check the cost of drugs and services under different plans before you enroll. You should review which policy offers the lowest price or the best coverage.
The government automatically signs you up if you collect from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board. Otherwise, you will need to sign up for Medicare.
There is a 7-month period when you can sign up for Medicare coverage, also known as your initial open enrollment period. This duration starts three months before your birthday, includes your birthday month, and three months following your birthday.
You can also sign up for Medicare during other open enrollment periods, which take place at the end of the year. Each year that you do not sign up after your initial open enrollment period, however, your premium will increase 10 percent when you do join.
A Medicare insurance agent can help you sign up by visiting or calling your local Social Security office. You can also use Medicare online services to sign up with a digital application.
If you are unhappy with your Medicare plan, you can wait until the next open enrollment period and switch. When you sign up for a new plan, Medicare removes you from your old plan.