Most people sign up for Medicare to begin the first day of their 65th birthday month. You can get Medicare prior to your 65th birthday if you are disabled or have permanent kidney failure. If you are still working and have a group employee health plan, you can postpone signing up for Medicare until you retire. You won’t be charged a penalty on your Part B premium as long as your group plan is creditable (or coverage that is as good or better than Medicare). When you do retire, you have eight months to sign up for your Part B beginning with the month after your group health plan ends or the employment it is based on ends. If you remain working but still plan to go on Medicare, there is another issue you should consider. Your Part B and Part D (drug plan) premiums can be surcharged based on income. If you have a high income, these surcharges may apply. Since most people’s income goes down when they retire, you might want to wait until then to go on Medicare.
Once you have decided to go on Medicare, you can sign up online or go to your local SS office if you want to speak to someone in person. You will sign up for Part A (Hospital Services) and Part B (Doctors’ Services). Once enrolled in Medicare, you can choose a plan that is provided by private insurance companies to help cover the gaps in Medicare. These are Supplemental or Advantage Plans. If you want prescription drug coverage, that would be a Part D plan, also provided by private insurance companies. An experienced broker can explain the differences between these plans and how they work with Medicare.