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New to Medicare – It’s time to take the first steps 

If you are turning 65, welcome. Your time has come.

It’s important to understand key dates, requirements and to plan ahead. Here’s what you need to know to determine your eligibility and be prepared for Medicare. 

Am I eligible?

If you receive Social Security benefits and paid Medicare payroll taxes while employed, you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B when you turn 65. If you have not yet received Social Security benefits, you must sign up for Medicare.

You can sign up for Medicare three months before the month you turn 65, as well as three months after. This is known as your Initial Enrollment Period. Your coverage can start as early as the month of your 65th birthday.

If you don't sign up during this 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you could be charged a penalty that will result in higher premiums for life.

When to enroll?

It is best to enroll in Medicare when you are first eligible, even if you won’t be collecting Social Security benefits. You are eligible to enroll three months before the month you turn 65, as well as three months after. If you continue to work past age 65 and have health insurance through your employer, you can enroll for Medicare when you retire. You must sign up within eight months of leaving your job to avoid a penalty.

What does Medicare cover and what do I pay?

Medicare has four parts (A, B C and D) to help cover specific services. Each has different monthly premiums and deductibles:

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps cover inpatient care in hospitals. Part A also helps cover skilled nursing facilities, hospice and home healthcare. You must pay an annual deductible before Medicare pays its part. This can change annually.

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps cover doctor services and outpatient care. Part B also helps cover some preventive services to help you stay healthy and manage chronic conditions. There is an annual deductible. Once it’s reached, Medicare will pay 80% of services ... and you’ll be responsible for the remaining 20%. 

Medicare Advantage is known as Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage plans, like Geisinger Gold, often offer benefits Original Medicare doesn’t cover.  

  • Medicare Advantage plans combine Parts A and B, as well as cover services like routine dental and vision care, hearing aids, fitness benefits and worldwide emergency medical coverage.

You must have A and B to qualify to enroll. The nice thing about Medicare Advantage plans is they have very low to zero-dollar premiums. And some come with no copays or deductibles. 

Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. 
Even if don’t take any prescription drugs (or only take a few), you should consider enrolling in Part D.  If you wait and enroll at a later date, you may be subject to higher premiums. This prescription drug coverage has an annual premium, and an annual deductible. You can apply for it separately or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. 

What if I missed my Initial Enrollment Period?

It’s best to enroll in Medicare when you’re first eligible.  If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may pay a late penalty of 10 percent of your premiums – for each year you delayed enrollment.

If you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible, you can catch up by signing up for Part A or Part B during the General Enrollment Period:

  • Jan. 1 - March 31 each year
  • Your Original Medicare coverage will start July 1


Understanding how Medicare works

Watch this video to help you understand when to sign up and the basics of Medicare, from Part A to D.

Here’s how to enroll in a Geisinger Gold Medicare Advantage plan.

You can sign up online for Medicare Advantage (Parts C and D) as soon as you become eligible for Medicare, or during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), from October 15 to December 7. Have questions? Call 800-482-8163 (TTY: 711) to speak with a Geisinger Gold Medicare Advisor.

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