According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, as of 2014 there were 49,435,610 people enrolled in the Medicare program. Forbes magazine reports that about 10,000 people are enrolling in Medicare every day. If the trend continues, there will be 80,000 people enrolled by 2035.
Most Medicare enrollees admit that they really don’t know much about Medicare. In a recent survey conducted, only 46% of beneficiaries said that they understood Medicare and how it works; 16% of seniors admitted that they are at a complete loss when it comes to Medicare.
So What is Medicare?
“Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, people under age 65 with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease.” (www.medicare.gov).
Medicare Part A covers Inpatient Hospital and some skilled nursing services. Medicare Part B will cover medically necessary lab tests, surgeries, doctors’ and nurses visits, therapy Home Health Care and durable medical equipment (like wheelchairs and walkers). Medicare Part D covers Prescription drugs. Medicare Part C is a combination of A, B & C in one plan. Medicare typically does not cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, or contacts/eyeglasses.
How and when can I sign up for Medicare?
Some people will be enrolled into Medicare A and B automatically. If you’re automatically enrolled, you will get your red, white, and blue Medicare cared in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or in your 25th month of disability.
When you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A. If you will not be receiving Social Security Benefits, you will need to sign up for Medicare Part B. If you do not have prescription drug benefits, you will also need to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to avoid a penalty. Check with your local Social Security office to see if you will be automatically enrolled.
Ways to sign up for Medicare
- Apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly
- Visit your local Social Security office.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
- If you worked for a railroad, call the RRB at 1-877-772-5772.
For more information on how Medicare works and enrollment, go to www.mediare.gov or call the Medicare toll-free number, 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call TTY 1-877-486-2048. You may also call Brock & Credille Insurance for assistance at 1-877-290-4200 toll free or 662-844-3300.