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Turning 65 Checklist: Getting Started with Medicare

Turning 65 Checklist: Getting Started with Medicare

Turning 65 is a confusing time. What exactly are you responsible for, and how do you go about doing it?

This Ultimate “I’m Turning 65” Checklist will save you from constant online searching, mismatched to-do lists, and penalties you might face if you forget an item.

If you’re retiring...

  • Enroll in Medicare Parts A and B (also called “Original Medicare”).

Most people receive Medicare Part A automatically. However, you do need to sign up for Medicare Part B. You can apply online at https://www.ssa.gov/medicare/ or you can go to your local Social Security office.

Exception: If you or your spouse haven’t worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, you’ll have to sign up and pay for Medicare part A.

  • Consider a Medicare Advantage plan as an alternative to Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage offers cheap premiums for a few tradeoffs: limited medical networks, high deductibles and co-pays, and difficulty switching to Medigap.

While Medicare Advantage can work for some, especially those in really large cities, it’s often not the best choice for most people.

However, it’s always best to weigh your options.

  • Sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan.

If you’re currently taking prescriptions, sign up for a Part D plan. If you’re not, you have a choice. 1) Receive a 1% penalty on the monthly premium for each month you don’t sign up, or 2) pay for something you don’t currently need but may need in the future.

It’s up to you, but when you’re ready, you can follow a short tutorial we’ve put together to compare costs of drug plans on Medicare.gov.

Exception: You’re on CHAMPVA. You may be eligible for the Meds by Mail program, which covers most prescriptions in full.

  • Choose a Medigap plan.

Medicare covers about 80% of your medical expenses. A Medigap plan picks up the remaining 20%. You can buy a plan up to 6 months after you enroll in Medicare Part B without having to pass any medical questions. However, we always recommend trying to pass medical underwriting, because you may be able to get a cheaper plan.

Want a PDF to print for future use? Download The Turning 65 Checklist Now.

If you’re not retiring...

  • Make sure you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A.

Medicare Part A is free, and you’ve been paying into it for years. There’s no reason to leave it behind. Most people are automatically enrolled. You’ll know you’ve been enrolled in Part A if you get a Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday.

  • Decide whether you should keep your group insurance plan or whether you should drop it and switch to Medicare.

Compare your group plan’s premium, deductible, copays, and coinsurance with Medicare’s. Which one will end up saving you money in the long-term?

  • If you drop your group plan, enroll in Medicare Part B.

If you don't get Medicare automatically, you’ll need to apply for Medicare online. You can also do this at your local Social Security office.

  • If you drop your group plan, sign up for a Part D prescription drug plan.

You can compare Part D drug plans on Medicare.gov’s website. We’ve put together a short tutorial with screenshots and instructions that you can access here: URL.

If you need additional help, contact us and we’ll guide you through it.

Exception: You’re on CHAMPVA. You may be eligible for the Meds by Mail program, which covers most prescriptions in full.

Want a PDF to print for future use? Download The Turning 65 Checklist Now.

If you’re a woman…

  • Start doing long-term care planning.

Women live longer than men, and women also spend twice as many years in a disabled state as men. If you’re living by yourself, who will take care of you, and how will you pay for it? If you wait to check out your insurance options, you may end up being unable to qualify.

Also, only 22% of women surveyed knew that Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care expenses. It’s important to make a plan before you need it. Your family should know your wishes now so that, if the time comes, they know who should care for you and how to pay for it.

Note: Long-term care insurance is not the only option. Other plans include short-term care or a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. An agent can walk you through the differences as well as potential costs.

If you’re a man…

  • Take a serious look at a cancer insurance plan.

Half of men (1 in 2) have a lifetime risk of getting some form of cancer. Two-thirds of cancer related costs are not covered by Medicare. Cancer insurance pays you a lump-sum to cover those out of pocket costs.

If you have investments…

  • Evaluate the risk vs. the return. Is it worth it?

After retirement, your focus should start shifting from making more money to protecting the money you’ve made. We advise that no more than 25% of your investments are in a volatile state. Consider moving out of high-risk investments and putting your money into no-risk investments that still give you a good return on your money.

If you don’t have a funeral plan…

  • Take a look at final expense insurance.

Your family should know what your burial wishes are to avoid conflict and stress. Insurance premiums are lower when you’re younger and healthier, so it’s a great idea to finalize a plan now.

Want a PDF to print for future use? Download The Turning 65 Checklist Now.

 

 


Our team of dedicated, licensed agents can help you as little or as much as you need. Whether it’s answering a few questions about Medicare or creating a comprehensive Medicare Planner with you, we are your Medicare Allies.

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