Aging into Medicare

What you need to know as you approach 65.
Guy Milbert

When it comes time to celebrate your 65th birthday, you’ll likely be inundated with all sorts of well wishes from family and friends wanting to help you celebrate an important milestone. This is an exciting time in life when you can switch gears and focus on yourself and the things you enjoy most. But you will also need to be prepared for what’s ahead, including tackling your Medicare enrollment.

Medicare enrollment can be confusing, but considering your initial steps ahead of time can help you feel more comfortable.

Your Medicare Questions Answered

What is the Initial Medicare Enrollment Period?

This period beings three months before your 65th birth month. It then includes your birth month and continues three months past your 65th birth month. If you are receiving Social Security, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. Otherwise, you will need to take action to sign up. Visit, call (800) 772-1213, or TTY: (800) 325-0778, to enroll.

As you get closer to becoming eligible, it’s important to review your options. If you won't have employer-sponsored coverage, you should decide if Original Medicare (Parts A and B) offers enough coverage, or if you’d like more coverage (Parts C and D) with a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap plan.

What is Original Medicare?

Original Medicare is administered by the federal government and includes hospitalization (Part A) and medical service (Part B) coverage starting at age 65. Usually, you’re eligible for Part A at no cost if you’ve paid into the Medicare system through your taxes for at least 10 years. There is a monthly premium for Part B. While Original Medicare covers about 80 percent of your medical expenses, many people purchase additional coverage for the remaining 20 percent and for prescription drug coverage.

What is Medicare Advantage (Part C)?

Medicare Advantage plans offer everything in Original Medicare, plus much more. Medicare Advantage plans help lower your out-of-pocket costs with predictable copayments, smaller deductibles, and out-of-pocket limits. In many cases, they might include extras like prescription drug coverage, vision, hearing, and dental coverage.

What is Medicare Supplement (Medigap)?

Medigap plans are supplements that help fill the “gaps” in Original Medicare. Original Medicare pays for much, but not all, of the costs for covered health care services and supplies. A Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan can help pay some of the remaining costs like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Medigap plans do not include prescription drug coverage.

Whether you are new to Medicare or you’ve had it for years, there’s always a lot to learn. Join AAA for one of our free, bimonthly Medicare 101 educational events online or in-person hosted by Guy Milbert, our long-term care and health specialist.

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