Each day, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 — and thereby become eligible for Medicare.
But becoming eligible for and actually enrolling in Medicare are two very different things. In fact, if you miss the initial window to sign up for certain parts of Medicare and later decide to enroll, you could wind up paying significantly higher premiums for the rest of your life.
If you’re approaching 65, get familiar with these Medicare basics now:
Medicare provides benefits to people age 65 and older (and those under 65 with certain disabilities or end-stage renal disease). For most people, the initial enrollment period is the seven-month period that begins three months before the month they turn 65. If you miss that window, you may enroll between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year, although your coverage won’t begin until July 1.
Medicare offers several plans and coverage options, including:
Medicare Part A helps cover inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility and hospice services, as well as home health care. Most people pay no monthly premium for Part A, provided they or their spouse have paid FICA taxes for at least 40 calendar quarters.