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New to Medicare and News about Medicare

Separating from your old employer health-coverage and transitioning into Medicare coverage for your primary health insuranc, can be exhausting. You may be unfamiliar with how things work; or, you don’t understand how your new coverage will work. This transition process can be seamless if you know the right steps to take. However, new-to-Medicare beneficiaries in 2020 have some important changes to consider.

New to Medicare – 2020 

If you’re celebrating your 65th birthday in 2020, say hello to Medicare!  The overload of information can be confusing and Medicare is constantly changing and updating their policies.

When you’re new to Medicare you need to know a breakdown to the basics. You should begin to prepare for the change about 6 months before you turn 65. This includes understanding how and when to enroll in Medicare. 

Enrolling in Medicare

New Medicare beneficiaries are given a seven-month window to enroll in Medicare. This window is your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare (IEP). Your IEP is specific to your birthday month. This period always starts 3 months before your birthday month, the month of, and stops 3 months after you turn 65.  During your IEP you may enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. You may also choose to enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage at this time.

Medicare offers 3 ways to enroll.

First, the most popular and convenient option is online. You can visit Medicare’s website and fill out an application at any time.  

The second way to apply for Medicare is in person at your local Social Security office. To avoid any wait times, call ahead and make an appointment. 

Lastly, you can call the Social Security office and request an application over the phone. The Social Security Administration will send you an application via the U.S. Postal Service.

Annual Election Period

Each year Medicare holds their Annual Election Period (AEP) in the fall. The dates are from October 15th through December 7th. During this period, you can look over your Advantage plan or Part D plan and then make changes to them if you want. For example, during the AEP you may change MA or Part D drug plans. You may also use this time to switch from an Advantage plan to a stand-alone Part D drug plan (and vice versa).  

Knowing these basic rules for enrolling will help you enroll during the right times to avoid late enrollment penalties. Furthermore, this information will help you choose the right coverage option for you. 

As always, if you need additional information or have questions, working with a Medicare agent can certainly help. Agents will help compare plans for you, and ensure you’re choosing the best plan for your medical needs.

First-Dollar Coverage Plans in 2020

Medicare is making some changes starting January 1, 2020. Congress is hoping that by requiring all Medicare beneficiaries to pay their Part B deductible, that patients will stop going to the doctor for every small ailment. 

Medigap (Supplement Insurance) Plans C and F, both cover the Part B deductible so the changes will only affect these plans. In turn, members who enroll on or after January 1, 2020 will no longer be able to enroll in Medigap Plan C or F. 

All other Medigap plans are available to purchase. If enrollment of either Plan C or F was before 12/31/2019, Medicare is “grandfathering in” those beneficiaries. Their coverage won’t see a change as they may keep their plan as it is. This change will only affect those turning 65 on or after 1/1/2020. 

 Although this change is getting rid of some plan options, hope isn’t lost. Medicare Supplement Plan G is identical to Plan F, aside from one small difference; the Part B deductible  which is $185  in 2019. 

8 comments
  • Caleb
    REPLY

    Counsellors are available in many locations (usually from non-profit organizations) to help seniors get onto Medicare, and you should seek one out. If I hadn’t, I would have been lost.

    I learned that for poor seniors, there is a great deal of assistance available. In my “blue” state of Rhode Island, I was able to apply for Medicaid to pay my Part B premium every month, which is a savings of about $136. Medicare itself has a program called “Extra Help” for poor seniors which reduces all of your drug co-pays. Seniors should also investigate Food Stamps (SNAP), LIHEAP (heating assistance), and Section 8 (help with your rent). Here is a bit of advice: Instead of foregoing Plan B, opt for it and try to get Medicaid to pay the premium. I suggest that all seniors get plans A, B and D at a minimum. I do not have part C, and my Medicare expenses are quite reasonable (with the benefits I am receiving).

  • Ronald Messier
    REPLY

    I was not aware of a penalty for signing up to Medicare after you are 65. I am spinal cord injured. My personal care assistant was 65 soon after she started working for me. I thought she had to be working in the USA for 10 years like you do to qualify for Social Security. When the 10 years was up and she signed up for Medicare she had money taken away from the amount she receives from the SSA.

  • Debra MacKillop
    REPLY

    This is a confusing article on Medicare, especially about Part B deductible payment and plans being phased out – not enough information. What does the statement mean – stop Medicare patients from going to doctor with every little ailment? Medicare requires a referral for any doctor or practitioner you want to see except your PCP, and you are required to go to the PCP for those referrals….Medicare has set up a program designed to make you go see your PCP first about any concern, question or possible ailment. I would like to see a follow up with more information about the topics in this article. Thank you

    • Bob
      REPLY

      Debra, you are one hundred percent wrong. If you have straight Medicare you can go to any doctor of your choosing who accepts Medicare, no referral needed. Thank you

      • Bonnie Phan
        REPLY

        Thank you Bob. I go to any doctor accepting Medicare without any sort of referral. Also, just re-reading the article might clarify any confusion. I found it to be easily understandable.

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