Medicare Basics

Changing your health insurance to Medicare can be an overwhelming task, but knowing and understanding the facts will help you feel you are more prepared and in control of these changes. 

There are two different scenarios you could choose to get your Medicare coverage, but the decisions are based on what is right for you in your situation. Most Medicare recipients will need to enroll in Part A (Hospitalization coverage) and Part B (Medical coverage). However, several Medicare recipients will also need to enroll in an additional plan/plans to help them cover the extra medical services that are not covered by Part A and Part B. One such scenario Medicare recipients could choose from would be: a supplement plan to help cover the gaps in Medicare as well as a Part D (prescription drug coverage) plan; or Medicare recipients could choose option two: a Medicare Advantage Plan. 

Medicare enrollment may be a daunting task, but it’s best to start the enrollment process in a timely fashion. Individuals can start the Medicare enrollment process as early as 3 months before their 65th birthday, but remember your initial enrollment period will end 3 months after your 65th birthday (7 months total for your initial enrollment period). In order to start your Medicare benefits consumers should contact their local social security office or go to www.ssa.gov to create an account and enroll. 

Consumers who postpone enrolling into their Medicare Part A and/or Part B will have a general election period to start their original Medicare from January 1st – March 31st, but your coverage will not begin until July 1st and you may have to pay higher premium rates due to the late enrollment. 

Annually there is an Open enrollment period for Medicare recipients to change their Medicare Advantage plans or their Medicare Part D plan. The annual open enrollment will operate from October 15th – December 7th and the coverage changes will take effect starting January 1st of the following year. 

Individuals who are still employed and/or covered by an employer’s group health plan (whether it is your employer or your spouse’s employer) you can sign-up for Part A and Part B through a special enrollment period without a penalty. This special enrollment period may be used anytime you’re still covered by the group health plan after you turn 65, but you may want to explore how this change in health insurance may affect you and your family. This special enrollment period will also be effective for the first 8 months starting when your employment or health coverage ends, whichever happens first. 

Medicare can be a confusing new landscape to explore, but there are people who can help you. Due to the demand in our community Ohio Hills Health Services (OHHS) partnered with Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) to offer free Certified Medicare Counselor’s to help answer your Medicare questions and offer this assistance to anyone in the community, not just OHHS patients.  

Free Medicare counseling: