Old Enough for Medicare

Young Barry Atwood

This is the year the first wave of baby boomers turn 65, which means they are eligible to sign up for Medicare. My husband Barry is just about ready to ride the crest of that wave. He turns 65 in November, and because I’m the one in the family who purports to understand the special language of health care, I’m the one who gets to read and interpret all the information.

First, indulge me for a moment as I come to terms with this life passage. My husband — who is older than I, by the way — is turning 65! He was just a mere lad of 34 when I met him. How can he suddenly be a venerable older man? Of course, as those of you who know and love him will attest, he still acts like a mischievous boy of 12!

Barry is now soon to be eligible for Medicare benefits, and we are especially grateful because we are paying through the nose for health insurance through COBRA. I suppose I should be grateful for COBRA, which allowed us to keep the insurance from my former employer for 18 months — for a monthly premium of $1325!

I could easily digress and get into a heated discussion about health care reform, but I’ll focus on the business at hand. I’ve been pouring over a 138-page booklet called “Medicare & You” that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services publishes every year. The first thing I figured out, after I got over the shock of realizing how much information I had to go through, was that no matter how hard someone may have tried to make it easy to understand, it isn’t! I’ve had to read several things over and over again.

I expect to learn a great deal from this experience and have decided it will be too important to keep to myself, so throughout the process I will share what I learn. I will be getting help along the way from Carol Rancourt, who is an expert on Medicare at the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging.

The first step to getting your Medicare benefits is to apply. You have a seven-month window in which to sign up. It begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birth, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. So technically, Barry who turns 65 November 25th, has until the end of February to apply. By applying now, his coverage should begin the first day of November. Waiting until after his birthday would mean a delay in coverage. By the way, if you happen to be born on the first day of the month, your coverage is supposed to begin the first day of the prior month.  So much to digest!

How to apply for Medicare

  • Go to your local Social Security Office (Carol recommends making an appointment rather than standing in line)
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213
  • Apply On line

Should you also apply for Social Security?
Before you apply for Medicare, decide if also want to start getting Social Security because it’s one of the questions you will be asked. There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration, which I will probably tackle in a future post. Barry has decided to wait at least until his official retirement age of 66.  If  you are already collecting Social Security you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B when you reach 65. I’ll go into detail about A and B and C and D in a future post.

I think that’s enough information for today, at least it is for me. Barry is going to apply online. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you have specific questions about Medicare you’d like me to address, let me know and I’ll do my best to find the answers. Also, please share the information. I’ve added a handy bar to the bottom of the blog that should make it easy for you to share, contact me, and become a fan of the Catching Health Facebook page. Thank you and no matter how old you are, I hope you stay forever young. That’s what I plan to do!

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