Of all the government assistance programs out there, people tend to have the most questions about Medicare. It’s true that this government-run health insurance plan can be confusing, because it is so detailed. However, if you just know a few basics about it, it will make learning the rest so much easier.
First of all, you become eligible for Medicare at age 65, regardless of whether or not you are still working or have retired. You can use it in conjunction with your employer-sponsored health insurance while you’re still working, or if you’re able to retain that insurance after you retire. Medicare then acts like a backup insurance plan to cover the things your primary insurance doesn’t cover, such as co-pays. You can also get Medicare if you are legally disabled, regardless of your age.
When you first become eligible for Medicare, you are automatically signed up for Part A. Part A covers hospitalization and all the expenses involved with a hospital trip or stay. Part A is free. You have the option of signing up for Part B when you enroll in Part A, though it’s not required. Part B covers doctor visits, lab work, and any medical work outside of a hospital, except prescriptions. You have to pay a small monthly premium for Part B.
If you don’t sign up for Part B when you first get Medicare, you have the option of signing up for it during the open enrollment period each year. However, the longer you wait, the higher your premium will be, so it’s best to get it right away. Another important thing to remember is that if you’re legally disabled and getting disability payments from the government, you must wait two years after becoming legally disabled before you become eligible for Medicare.