Aging into Medicare can be one of the most confusing and complicated things you encounter in your life.
In America, if you have worked for 40 quarters or are the spouse of someone that has worked for 40 quarters, you are eligible for Medicare. Three months prior to your 65th birthday or 24th consecutive month on Social Security Disability, you receive a Medicare enrollment packet. You are automatically enrolled into Part A of Medicare (Hospitalization). Part B (Outpatient) is optional and you must physically enroll in order to receive benefits. This is done from an election form you receive in the "Welcome To Medicare" kit.
Many people I encounter were not aware that they had to sign up for Part B and thus are only enrolled in Part A. If you miss your initial Part B sign up window (when you are first eligible) there are delays and late enrollment penalties that could be charged to you.
In 2005 two new parts of Medicare were added. Part C and Part D. Part D of Medicare is the prescription drug program. If a person does not enroll in a prescription drug plan when they are first eligible they will be charged a late enrollment penalty if they every sign up in the future. I have come across many Medicare beneficiaries that were not aware of these penalties.
The Bottom Line:
Medicare will send you a copy of the Medicare and You book with your initial "Welcome To Medicare Kit". This is the extent of the assistance that many people get with their Medicare options. With late enrollment penalties, enrollment windows and a myriad of available choices the task of signing up for Medicare can be daunting. And What You Don't Know Can Hurt You!
What To Do?
Get help from a professional adviser that specializes in helping people Navigate the Medicare Maze!