If you’re getting close to the retirement age of 65, then you’re definitely not alone. Between now and 2030, 10,000 individuals will turn 65 a day. So now it’s time to sign up for Medicare. But Medicare produces many, many questions for a lot of individuals. So here are some things that you should know before and while signing up for Medicare.

You are able to sign up for Medicare the moment you turn 65. And you can’t drag your feet either; because any delay in your enrollment for Medicare you could collect some penalties. If you have paid Social Security taxes over the last 10 years, you will get the best coverage.

You can enroll three months before your 65th birthday all the way through three months after your birthday. You have six months after your 65th birthday to buy a private supplemental insurance policy, if you so choose and is highly beneficial. However, if you are currently obtaining Social Security, you actually don’t have to do anything. But if you aren’t you will need to sign up for Medicare through the Social Security Administration by either calling or through their website.

There are four parts to Medicare and it’s important to know about all of them or you’ll drive yourself nuts.

Part A covers most hospital stays, hospice, in home health care, and nursing homes.

Part B is medical insurance. This is your general doctors visits, preventive care, any medical equipment, lab tests, mental health and ambulance services.

Part C allows private health companies to provide benefits that are like Medicare like HMOs. You get to choose your own plan.

As for part D, this covers Prescription Drug Insurance. However, this is only provided through private insurance companies that are associated (contractually) with the government. If you don’t have part C of Medicare, it is in your best interest to sign up for a drug plan or you will risk paying penalties.

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