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Medicare Open Enrollment Coming-Get Ready

Health insurance seemed simple at work. Your company offers a couple of plans. You think about the deductibles, and make a choice.

Not so easy with Medicare. Some tips:

You can sign up three months before you turn 65, and four months later. Coverage starts with the month in which you celebrate your 65th birthday.

Two basic choices. Original Medicare means you can go to any doctor or any hospital in  the system. Make this choice if you have any health problems and any doctors you need to see on a regular basis. To enroll, you call Social Security and tell them you want to sign up for Part B. You also want to get a Medi-gap policy, which helps pay for deductibles and co-payments. And you will need a Part D policy, which covers prescription drugs.

Some information from the federal government

Medicare Rights Center can guide you through the maze of choices:

If you are working at age 65 and then retire, you have eight months to enroll in Medicare or you will pay a financial penalty. Lots of people can get caught in this trap. The eight months begin after you leave active employment. That means you are drawing a pension, or you are getting medical coverage from a spouse on a pension. Either way, this is not considered active employment.

Written by Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt is a researcher, writer and journalist who helps people looking for up-to-date answers and information on the perplexing issues at the intersection of finances and aging. Bob publishes a weekly report — please take a moment to subscribe in the upper right hand corner of this page.

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