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Start by gathering the information you need

Have an open exchange with everyone involved in the decision-making process, and start by understanding your loved one’s health history and needs. Find answers to important questions like:

  • Is there any existing health care coverage such as retirement benefits from an employer?
    Any current coverage may affect the level of coverage you need with Medicare.
  • What prescription drugs is he or she taking?
    Having a complete list, including frequency and dosages, will help in comparing prescription drug plans and finding which plan to choose.
  • Are there any preferences for doctors?
    Will the person you are caring for prefer the freedom of choosing any Medicare-participating provider or prefer the potential cost savings that may come with using in-network providers?

Obtain consent to discuss and make key medical decisions

If you are a caregiver, before discussing treatment options or health issues, have your loved one sign a consent form giving their doctor permission to speak with you. Talk about who should make important decisions in the time of a medical crisis, and if they have any preferences for specific scenarios.

Know the facts about Medicare Enrollment:

Understand Medicare Enrollment Deadlines

You can sign up for Medicare when you’re first eligible for Part B (Medical insurance). This Initial Enrollment Period occurs during the seven-month period that surrounds your 65th birthday. It begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65.

If a beneficiary doesn’t sign up for Part A and/or Part B (for which you pay monthly premiums) when he or she is first eligible, they can sign up between January 1–March 31 each year. Coverage will begin July 1. However, there may be a higher premium for late enrollment.

Do you need to enroll? Many people automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B.

But unless you’re already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you will need to enroll to get Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Part A and Part B will start the first day of the prior month.

Medicare Part B is a voluntary program that will normally require you to pay a monthly premium. Medicare will mail you a Medicare card and general information before the date you become eligible. If you don’t want to keep Part B, you must follow the directions when you get your Medicare card to let Medicare know you don’t want it. Otherwise, you will be charged the Part B premium.

If you’re 65 or older and you aren’t getting Social Security or RRB benefits yet (for instance, because you’re still working), you won’t get Part A and Part B automatically. People of any age diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and who meet certain requirements are also eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B, but must sign up for them.

If you need more information about Medicare eligibility, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778 or, visit www.medicare.gov/MedicareEligibility

Know the options for Medicare coverage

You can choose different ways to get your Medicare coverage. Understand what Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) does and doesn’t cover. Learn how a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement or a Medicare-approved Prescription Drug Plan can provide coverage beyond Original Medicare.

Need help deciding? Have questions?

  • Call us at 1-877-234-1240 (TTY #: 711)
    • From October 1 – March 31, Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • From April 1 – September 30, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Visit our FAQs section for answers to commonly asked questions.

Get the help YOU need

There are many resources that may be available to you as a caregiver for an older adult including:

  • Tax benefits
  • State assistance
  • Legal help

RELATED ARTICLE > Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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