64°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Not yet 65 but already feeling overwhelmed with Medicare questions?

Dear Toni: I turn 65 in March and am overwhelmed by the marketing calls and mail I am getting regarding enrolling in Medicare. Each company says theirs is the best, but they all offer the same thing with dental, vision and gym membership.

Everybody says if I do not enroll in Medicare at the right time, I will get a penalty that will last the rest of my life. How does someone know what is the right decision? — Monty, Pittsburgh

Dear Monty: The answer is, you do nothing during this annual enrollment period, because you are not 65 and won’t be enrolled in Medicare until March.

The annual enrollment period is for those who are under 65 and on Social Security Disability and those who are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare.

Next year’s open enrollment period is when you can make a change to your Part D plan and change or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, Monty.

Since you are turning 65 in March, you will be in your initial enrollment period — the seven-month window begins three months before your birthday, runs through the month you turn 65 and extends three more months — starting in December.

So, December is a good time for you to begin enrolling in Medicare and exploring which Medicare options best fit your medical and prescription drug needs.

Talk with your medical providers to learn what type of Medicare plan — whether Medicare Advantage with prescription drug coverage or original Medicare with a supplement and a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan — is right for your health situation and the prescriptions you take.

Medicare is not one size fits all, though the insurance companies want you to believe that their plan is perfect for you.

Often touted in TV ads, Medicare Advantage plans that return money back on your Social Security check such as the “give-back” or “premium reduction” are based on your income and not automatically approved.

Always talk with your health care professional when you are planning to make a major Medicare insurance change, because that provider may not be in that Advantage plan’s network.

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. If you have a Medicare question, email info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Tips to keep youth sports fun, avoid burnout

Organized sports can be great for kids. But studies show that nearly 70 percent of kids across the U.S. drop their favorite sport before age 13.

After wake-up call, Eugene Levy embraces spirit of adventure

“You need that kick-in-the-can moment to get out of your comfort zone,” says the 77-year-old star of “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Reluctant Traveler.”

 
Fitness trackers detect a new symptom of depression

When researchers started a COVID study using fitness-tracking rings, they didn’t know they would make a leap forward for an entirely different condition.

8 symptoms that should be evaluated by a cardiologist

“Heart Month is a great time of year to remind people that not all symptoms are created equal when it comes to our cardiovascular health,” Dr. Vinayak Nagaraja says.