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Countdown to Turning 65 — Preparing for Signing Up for Medicare

(This story does not reflect everyone’s unique experience when preparing for signing up for Medicare.)
Sara and Alma are twins. They turn 65 next year. Both are eligible for signing up for Medicare. Their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) starts three months before turning 65 and ends three months after. But they face different circumstances. Sara is married and retired from the military with a pension. Alma was a stay-at-home mom for many years. She’s widowed and held a part-time job over the past 20 years.

A Year or So Before They Turn 65

While parts of their Medicare journey will be the same, as with everyone, there are key differences. Their first step in approaching their 65th birthday is deciding their needs and wants. Some considerations for Sara and Alma are:
  • Do they have certain doctors and health care providers they want to see?
  • What prescriptions do they have?
  • What are their health needs?
  • Do they travel frequently?
  • How much can they afford for coverage?
  • How important are vision, hearing, and dental coverage?
Prioritizing their needs and wants is critical. It helps them get the coverage that’s right for their needs.

As They Get Closer to 65

If they sign up: Coverage starts:
Before the month they turn 65. The month they turn 65.
The month they turn 65. The next month.
1, 2, or 3 months after they turn 65. The first of the month following the month the enrollment request was made.
Once Sara and Alma understand their priorities, their next step is learning their options. They also need to find out if any coverage is available from former jobs, union membership, the military, or Medicaid.
Because Sara retired from the military, she’s eligible for a veteran’s supplemental plan. Alma doesn’t have another source of coverage and lives on a limited income. Vision benefits are especially important to her.
Sara and Alma must also be familiar with the basics of the four parts of Medicare — Parts A, B, C, and D. There are lots of great free resources, including the Medicare Guidebook from the Medicare Support Center at CVS. Guidance is available from their licensed insurance agents. Reach one by calling 1-833-786-0397 (TTY: 711). If Sara or Alma plan to continue working, they need to review information on working past 65.

Starting Three Months Before They Turn 65

As with everyone turning 65, Sara and Alma’s IEP is a seven-month window. Sara and Alma turn 65 on April 10. So their IEP begins January 1 and ends on July 31.
If they miss their IEP window, they may have to wait until General Enrollment begins the next January. They may also have to pay a penalty. The longer they wait signing up, the higher the penalty can rise.
Sara plans to enroll early, on January 25. Her coverage will begin on April 1. Alma, on the other hand, will enroll right on her birthday. Her coverage will begin May 1.

Help Before, During, and After Turning 65

Making difficult decisions about health coverage under a deadline can be stressful. Even when you understand your available options, you must evaluate which one suits your needs best.
It can be helpful speaking with an experienced licensed insurance agent. They help people navigate Medicare — both before turning 65 and after receiving Medicare benefits. Our agents ask questions about your health and lifestyle, and your plans for retirement. They make recommendations from a full range of available plans based on the answers.
Having a knowledgeable agent guide you through the process of signing up means you won’t miss important deadlines. And you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having someone reliable answer questions — making Medicare decisions easier.

Give us a Call

1-844-672-0317 (TTY: 711)
9 AM to 6 PM ET

MR471 4/2022