understanding your medical insurance policy

Getting Your Medicare Lined Up: What You Need To Do To Be Ready For It

by Peppi Halko

Medicare is not automatic when you retire. It does not simply go into effect when you hit that magic retirement number. Before you can begin receiving and using Medicare benefits, you have several steps in between no Medicare and Medicare recipient. Here is what any Medicare general agency will tell you that you need to do before you can officially receive Medicare benefits.

Apply for Medicare Through Social Security's Website

Just like you applied for Social Security retirement benefits, you have to apply for Medicare. Both programs are sponsored by the same government department, which makes the application process a little more convenient. If you applied online for retirement benefits, go through the same website to apply for Medicare. If you applied in person for retirement benefits, there is a good chance that your intake worker already helped you fill out the forms for Medicare. The only time this does not happen is when you choose to take your retirement benefits early because Medicare is strictly set for your later retirement age. 

Choose Your Coverage

There is a whole beginning alphabet of Medicare coverage. Most of it is fairly straightforward, like Medicare part D, which is your drug coverage (just think "D for Drugs" and you will remember). The rest is a little more confusing based on whether you want premium coverage, mid-level coverage, or basic coverage because you barely see a doctor for anything. (The need to see a doctor will change the older you get, so take this into consideration when choosing your plan.) If you are totally confused about plans, there are plenty of Medicare insurance agency pros that can explain the different levels of coverage to you. Most people opt for the plans that let them continue seeing the doctors they have seen in the past without any changes in co-pays. 

Wait for Your Acceptance Letter and Medicare Cards

Now you have to wait for your Medicare acceptance/award letter and cards. You will have one card for your medications/drugs, and one card for your health insurance. Depending on the plan you chose, you may also have a separate card for vision coverage and/or a separate card for dental. You should apply for Medicare two months prior to becoming the accepted age for this benefit, as it may take the Social Security Administration that long to process your application and send you the letter with the cards.