Senior News Line: Navigating the Medicare maze

Know the facts before you sign up for Medicare

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  • | 11:17 a.m. May 1, 2013
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day. When we do, we’re eligible to sign up for Medicare.

Allsup, a provider of services for those of us who have Medicare plans, has outlined in a newsletter some of the facts we need to know about signing up for Medicare. Taking the right steps at the beginning is crucial and difficult because of all the choices that have to be made.

When can we sign up? Three months before we turn 65, the month we turn 65, and three months afterward.

If you’re still working at age 65 and have a group plan through your employer, you might be able to keep that coverage. Check with your employer’s healthcare administrator for specific questions.

Study the Medicare Part D prescription drug plans carefully. There are about 20 to choose from. With Medigap policies, there are around 10. Beware: Medigap doesn’t necessarily have to accept you after your initial enrollment period.

Enroll on time. If you don’t, you could be assessed a penalty of 10 percent for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled in Part B. If you go 63 days without enrolling, you also could be assessed a penalty for Part D.

If you have a high income ($85,000 for individuals, $170,000 for couples) you’ll pay increased rates for your premiums for Part B, as well as for drug prescriptions. The income figure to be used is your Modified Adjusted Gross Income from your tax returns two years ago.

Your best bet: Begin studying Medicare on your 64th birthday. Go to the Medicare website (www.medicare. gov) frequently and become comfortable with all the choices and decisions. Then, when the time comes, you’ll know how to handle your Medicare options.

Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Send email to [email protected]. © 2013 King Features Synd. Inc.