Article by Dena Bunis, AARP

“Choosing the best Medicare options that will work best for you can be complicated. Looking at the possibilities through the following four categories can help you make the best decision.

The Medicare Rights Center, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit consumer service organization, shared with AARP its list of 10 common mistakes new Medicare enrollees make.

  1. Not signing up for Medicare at the right time
    Timing, as they say, is everything. It’s especially important when it comes to enrolling in Medicare. As you approach 65, you’ll want to enroll during what the government calls your initial enrollment period (IEP). This seven-month period goes from three months before the month in which you turn 65 until three months after.   If you don’t sign up during your IEP, you will get another chance to enroll during Medicare’s annual general enrollment period, from Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year. However, if you enroll at that time, your coverage won’t begin until July. And, because you enrolled late, your monthly premiums for Medicare Part B — which covers your doctor visits and other outpatient services — will likely cost you more.
  2. Confusion about the special enrollment period
    If you are 65 or older, when you stop working and lose your health insurance coverage or when the insurance you have through your spouse ends, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare. Medicare has created a special enrollment period (SEP) that lets you do that without facing a late enrollment penalty.

Again, timing is everything. What many people don’t realize is that you can only use this SEP either while you are covered by job-based insurance or for eight months after you no longer have job-based insurance.”

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