Senior man checking phone

How to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare)

People with Medicare who want additional coverage, more peace of mind, or lower healthcare costs can consider enrolling in Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). Healthpilot offers all three. But before you can enroll in any of these plans, you must first sign up for Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical insurance), also known as Original Medicare. (You can learn the basics of Medicare here.) Here’s how to sign up and what to expect.

The Initial Enrollment Period.

Most people become eligible for Medicare three months before turning 65. If you are disabled, you can become eligible earlier.

Your first opportunity to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B is the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This period lasts seven months: three months before you turn 65 + your birthday month + three months after.

Enrolling in Medicare after 65.

If you or your spouse are actively employed and are planning to remain on your (or your spouse’s) employer-sponsored plan after 65, make sure you understand how Medicare and employer insurance work together. The time to start planning your transition from employer coverage to Medicare is a few months before you turn age 65. If you enroll in Medicare Part B at 66 or later — and you (or your spouse) are not actively employed — a late enrollment penalty may be added to your premium. So it pays to plan ahead.

Even if you delay signing up for Medicare Part B, you should consider signing up for Part A as soon as you’re eligible. For those who have worked for 10 years and paid Medicare taxes, there is no Part A premium, so there is no reason not to sign up.

Sign up for Medicare through Social Security.

You must sign up for Medicare through the Social Security Administration. But you do not have to start collecting Social Security yet. You can apply for Medicare only.

If you are already receiving Social Security, there is no need to sign up for Medicare. You are already enrolled. Those who worked for the railroads may also be automatically enrolled in Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board.

How to sign up and what to expect.

There are several ways to apply for Medicare. The process usually takes 10-20 minutes.

Sign up online.
First, you need to create an account on the Social Security website. Then you can sign up for Medicare online. During the Medicare application process, you’ll receive an application ID number you can use to log in again if you need to stop for any reason.

Information you will need to sign up:

      • Date and place of birth. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need your Permanent Resident Card number.
      • Current Health Insurance. You will need start and end dates for your (or your spouse’s) current coverage and employment.
      • Medicaid Number. If you have a Medicaid number, you will need to this along with start and end dates for your coverage.

Sign up by phone.
Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778.

Sign up in person.
You can make an appointment to sign up at your local Social Security office. Find yours here.

Sign up by mail.
You can also send a signed and dated letter to Social Security with your name, social security number and the date you would like to be enrolled in Medicare.

Keep records.

However you choose to sign up, keep records. If your application is lost, you can use these records to avoid receiving a Part B premium penalty. Print or save a confirmation of your application submission. Take notes on whom you speak to and when. If visiting the Social Security office, ask for a receipt. If applying by mail, use certified mail.

Look for a welcome package from Medicare.

About two weeks after signing up you should receive a welcome package from Medicare including your Medicare card. You can log into your my Social Security account to check the status of your application.

Enrolled? Now is the time to strengthen your coverage.

Once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medigap or a Part D Prescription Drug plan. Original Medicare does not cover most outpatient prescription drugs, routine dental, routine vision, and hearing.   And Medicare Part B typically requires you to pay 20% of the cost of doctors’ services, lab tests and x-rays after you pay your deductible. Reasons like this are why most Medicare users seek additional coverage.

The best time to get Medicare Advantage or a Part D Prescription Drug plan is when you first enroll in Medicare Part A and B. Signing up for Part D when you’re first eligible can help you avoid paying a lifetime Part D late enrollment penalty. For Medigap, you’ll want to sign up within six months of your Part B coverage going into effect. If you apply later, you may have to pay higher premiums, or you may be denied coverage due to your health status.

Save time. Let Healthpilot find the right Medicare plan for you.

Visit Healthpilot to find the right Medicare plan for your needs. It’s free, easy and secure. Then come back every fall during Medicare Annual Enrollment to review your coverage and make any desired adjustments. Once you enroll, we’ll monitor available plans and let you know if we find one that could be better for you, so you never have to worry about health insurance again.

Even if you aren’t yet eligible — or the enrollment period you need is weeks away — you can still compare plan benefits and costs. Then, once you have reached an applicable enrollment period and signed up for Medicare Parts A and B, you can log back into Healthpilot and apply for the right Medicare plan in minutes.

Medicare Advantage & Medigap: What’s the Difference?

There are some healthcare costs that Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) won’t pay. To help with these, many Medicare users enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Insurance policy (Medigap). However, you may not have both a Medicare Advantage Plan and Medigap at the same time. So if you want coverage beyond Original Medicare, you will have to make a choice.

Healthpilot can help. Healthpilot can search many of the Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans available in your area to find the right one for your specific healthcare needs. It’s fast, easy, secure and all online. Now, here are the key differences between Medicare Advantage and Medigap.

Plan Medicare Advantage Medigap
What is it?
Note: Medicare Parts A and B are required to have Medicare Advantage or Medigap.
Medicare Advantage includes all the services covered under Medicare Part A and Part B. Learn the basics of Medicare here.

Many plans cover routine dental care, vision care and prescription drugs.

Medigap helps pay your share of medical expenses like co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance after Medicare pays for services covered by Part A and Part B.
How does it work? Your doctor sends the bill to your Medicare Advantage plan.

The amount you pay for services (co-pays, deductibles, etc.) is set by your Medicare Advantage plan, and approved by Medicare.

Your doctor sends the bill to Medicare.

Medicare pays its share, then passes the rest of the costs to your Medigap plan for payment.

Cost Low or no monthly premium. But you do have to pay cost-sharing (co-pays, deductibles, etc.).

Note: You must still pay your Medicare Part B premium.

Can be a great option for people who are primarily concerned about paying high premiums.

Cost can change from year to year.

Medicare Advantage Plans have an annual maximum out-of-pocket cost (MOOP) which limits the total amount of money you have to pay in a year for Medicare Part A and Part B.

Higher monthly premium than Medicare Advantage but your out-of-pocket cost-sharing is very predictable.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans and what they cover are fully standardized. (For example, one plan F covers the exact same things as another plan F from another carrier.)

Can be a great option for people who are primarily concerned about paying high out-of-pocket costs if they get sick.

Drug coverage Often includes a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Convenience of one card for Medicare Parts A, B and D. Does not include drug coverage, but you can easily add a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
Additional Benefits May include routine dental and vision care, gym discounts and reimbursement for medically necessary transportation. Some Medigap plans cover care when you travel outside the U.S.

While Medigap does not cover dental or vision care, some plans offer a dental or vision discount program. You can also purchase separate plans for these services.

Network With HMO plans, you must use in-network doctors and choose a primary care physician.

With PPO plans, you can see a doctor out of network, but pay more.

Seeing a specialist may require a referral.

More freedom of access.

No primary care physician required. No networks.

If your doctor takes Medicare, they will also take your Medigap plan.

When to Enroll
Most people become eligible for Medicare three months before turning 65. If you are disabled, you can become eligible earlier.
You can enroll in Medicare Advantage during one of Medicare’s enrollment periods. Learn which enrollment period is right for you here. The best time to get a Medigap policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Your Open Enrollment Period starts when your Medicare Part B coverage goes into effect and ends six months later.

If you apply for Medigap after your Open Enrollment Period, your premiums may increase, or you may be denied Medigap coverage completely due to your health status. These rules vary by state.

 

Ready to get your Medicare plan recommendation?  Come to Healthpilot today!

 

advisor with client

Financial advisors: Do you have a Medicare “blind spot”?

Medicare is a costly blind spot for many financial advisors. Here’s how to turn it into an opportunity to grow your business.

Financial advisors who wouldn’t hesitate to start a conversation about planning for college tuition may never even think to ask their Medicare-eligible clients about planning for healthcare. That’s a problem. Research shows healthcare costs are the number one financial concern among retirees1. Clients are looking for your guidance. If you aren’t talking to them about their number one financial concern, someone else will.

Americans spend hundreds of billions of dollars on Medicare plans every year2. Talking to your clients about Medicare is a great opportunity to grow your business, and Healthpilot is a new tool that helps you make the most of it. With a simple online referral, you can put your clients at ease and potentially save them hundreds or even thousands on healthcare.

Start with their financial goals. 

As with other aspects of financial planning, it all starts with your client’s goals. Just as new parents want to save for college, seniors may want to retire, leave an inheritance, travel, or simply get the best care as they age.

A discussion of your client’s goals is a good time to bring up Medicare. Let your clients know that achieving their goals requires successfully managing their healthcare costs by finding the right Medicare plan. With Healthpilot, you have the Medicare solution they need to save money, protect their assets and progress toward their goals.

How do they like their current insurance?

Ask how they like their current healthcare coverage. How much do they pay out of pocket for things like premiums, co-pays, and deductibles?  Make it clear that you are not asking about their medical history. You’re simply gathering facts to better understand their annual Medicare costs, as you would with any other expense.

It’s all right if they don’t know details like their maximum out-of-pocket cost. You’re simply introducing Medicare coverage as a topic to include in your conversations. As you continue to discuss it throughout your relationship, you’ll increase their confidence in your ability to help them manage Medicare costs.

The easy way to find the right Medicare plan.

Medicare plans like Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans can help your clients with costs Original Medicare won’t pay. Consumers have an average of 33 Medicare Advantage plans and 30 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to choose from3. But once you partner with Healthpilot, all you have to do is refer your clients to us. We’ll find the right plan for your client’s healthcare needs and help you with retention by keeping them in the right plan for life

When should you talk to your clients about Medicare?

  1. Every time you talk to your Medicare-eligible clients.
    Whenever you meet with a Medicare-eligible client, make it a point to discuss their Medicare coverage. Let them know they can find the right Medicare plan online with Healthpilot, even before they are eligible to enroll. It’s free, easy to use and if they have any questions, they can get live help from one of our co-pilots.
  2. When your clients are turning 65.
    Reach out to all clients who are 64 or recently turned 65. They are, or soon will be, eligible to enroll in Medicare for the first time. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) lasts seven months: three months before they turn 65 + their birthday month + three months after. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to start their Medicare journey right. Don’t let them miss it.
  3. Every summer, remind all your Medicare-eligible clients about AEP.
    The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7. This is when Medicare members have the greatest opportunity to review their current coverage and enroll in the best plan for their needs. Refer them to Healthpilot every year during Medicare Annual Enrollment.

It’s easy to get started with Healthpilot.

Talking about Medicare creates a recurring, high-value client touch point for you while Healthpilot does the work of finding the right Medicare plan for your clients. All you have to do is keep bringing Medicare into your conversations and making the referrals to Healthpilot. We do the rest.

Learn more about Healthpilot for financial advisors and set up your Healthpilot account today!

Let’s talk about what partnering with Healthpilot can do for your business. Email our Healthpilot Partner Success Team at [email protected].

 


 

[1] Edward Jones, The Four Pillars of the New Retirement, Jan, 2021.
https://www.edwardjones.com/sites/default/files/acquiadam/2021-01/Edward-Jones-4-Pillars-US-report.pdf

[2]Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare Advantage in 2021: Enrollment Update and Key Trends, Jun, 2021.
https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-in-2021-enrollment-update-and-key-trends/

[3] Kaiser Family Foundation, 7 in 10 Medicare Beneficiaries Report That They Did Not Compare Their Coverage Options During a Recent Open Enrollment Period, October 2021.
https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/seven-in-ten-medicare-beneficiaries-did-not-compare-plans-during-past-open-enrollment-period/

 

senior couple with financial advisor

Financial Advisor’s Guide to Medicare Advantage & Medigap

Healthcare costs make up a large (and growing) portion of your clients’ annual expenses.  But finding the right Medicare plan to protect your clients’ assets doesn’t happen by accident. As their financial advisor, you need to guide them.

The good news? You don’t have to be an expert to help them choose the right coverage. Healthpilot does that for you.  After a referral from you, Healthpilot can search many of the Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans available to your client to find the right one for their healthcare needs. It’s fast, easy, secure and all online.

Consumers may not have a Medicare Advantage and a Medigap plan at the same time. So if your clients want coverage beyond Original Medicare, they will have to make a choice. Here are the key differences you need to know.

Plan Medicare Advantage Medigap
What is it?
Note: Medicare Parts A and B are required to have Medicare Advantage or Medigap.

Medicare Advantage includes all the services covered under Medicare Part A and Part B. Learn the basics of Medicare here.

Many plans cover routine dental care, vision care and prescription drugs.

Medigap helps pay your share of medical expenses like co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance after Medicare pays for services covered by Part A and Part B.

How does it work?

Your doctor sends the bill to your Medicare Advantage plan.

The amount you pay for services (co-pays, deductibles, etc.) is set by your Medicare Advantage plan, and approved by Medicare.

Your doctor sends the bill to Medicare.

Medicare pays its share, then passes the rest of the costs to your Medigap plan for payment.

Cost

Low or no monthly premium. But you do have to pay cost-sharing (co-pays, deductibles, etc.).

Note: You must still pay your Medicare Part B premium.

Can be a great option for people who are primarily concerned about paying high premiums.

Cost can change from year to year.

Medicare Advantage Plans have an annual maximum out-of-pocket cost (MOOP) which limits the total amount of money you have to pay in a year for Medicare Part A and Part B.

Higher monthly premium than Medicare Advantage but your out-of-pocket cost-sharing is very predictable.

Medicare Supplement insurance plans and what they cover are fully standardized. (For example, one plan F covers the exact same things as another plan F from another carrier.)

Can be a great option for people who are primarily concerned about paying high out-of-pocket costs if they get sick.

Drug coverage

Often includes a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Convenience of one card for Medicare Parts A, B and D.

Does not include drug coverage, but you can easily add a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

Additional Benefits

May include routine dental and vision care, gym discounts and reimbursement for medically necessary transportation.

Some Medigap plans cover care when you travel outside the U.S.

While Medigap does not cover dental or vision care, some plans offer a dental or vision discount program. You can also purchase separate plans for these services.

Network

With HMO plans, you must use in-network doctors and choose a primary care physician.

With PPO plans, you can see a doctor out of network, but pay more.

Seeing a specialist may require a referral.

More freedom of access.

No primary care physician required. No networks.

If your doctor takes Medicare, they will also take your Medigap plan.

When to Enroll
Most people become eligible for Medicare three months before turning 65. If you are disabled, you can become eligible earlier.

You can enroll in Medicare Advantage during one of Medicare’s enrollment periods. Learn which enrollment period is right for you here.

The best time to get a Medigap policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP). Your Open Enrollment Period starts when your Medicare Part B coverage goes into effect and ends six months later.

If you apply for Medigap after your Open Enrollment Period, your premiums may increase, or you may be denied Medigap coverage completely due to your health status. These rules vary by state.

Learn more about Healthpilot for financial advisors.

Let’s talk about what partnering with Healthpilot can do for your business. Email our Healthpilot Partner Success Team at [email protected].

 

Happy, older Asian couple looking at phone

5 Reasons Your Medicare Plan Needs A Check-Up Every Annual Enrollment Period

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is here again, and, once again, too many Medicare users will make a big mistake — failing to use this opportunity to shore up their health care coverage, save money and protect their wealth. Fortunately, you don’t have to make that mistake.

The Annual Open Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7), is the best time of year to review your Medicare coverage and make the changes you need. To take advantage of it, first, you need to understand all the changes you can make during this time. No other time of year offers so many possibilities.

Here’s what you can do during the Annual Enrollment Period:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another.
  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan.
  • Switch from one Part D prescription drug plan to another.
  • Leave a Part D prescription drug plan.

If you don’t give your plan a check-up, in January you may discover that your current plan raised costs more than you expected or stopped covering one of your prescriptions. That’s why it’s so important to give your plan a check-up and shop Medicare plans every year. (If you’re feeling left out because you don’t even have your first Medicare plan yet, read “New to Medicare? Here’s why everyone’s talking about the Annual Enrollment Period.”)

Here are 5 reasons why your Medicare plan needs a check-up every year:

  1. Medicare plans change every year.
    Your Medicare plan can change a lot from year to year. Your premiums may increase. Your drug plan may introduce new medications and stop covering others. If you have Medicare Advantage, one of your doctors may move out-of-network. All sorts of changes are possible, so you need to be aware of them. Look for the Annual Notice of Change letter from your Medicare plan every year at the end of September. The letter will summarize all the changes to your coverage that will go into effect January 1.Note: Medicare Supplement Insurance policies (Medigap) do not change from year to year. The coverage will remain the same as long as you hold the policy.
  1. Your healthcare needs change, too.
    The coverage you had last year may not be the coverage you need this year. Have you developed any new medical conditions since you enrolled in your last Medicare plan? Are you seeing any new specialists? Or have you successfully treated a condition so that it is no longer an issue? If so, consider whether your Medicare plan has given you what you need during these changes.  The Annual Enrollment Period is the time to find out if there is a better plan for your current needs just waiting for you to find it.
  1. You could save a lot of money.
    According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, about half of those who used Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period to explore their plan options cut their premiums by at least 5 percent. Don’t stand on the sidelines. You could be missing out on significant savings.
  1. If you miss the Annual Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to make changes.
    If you discover you are not happy with your drug plan after December 7, you may have to wait until October to switch to another drug plan. You may also have to wait until October if you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  1. There are lots of options out there now.
    That’s a good thing. If your current plan doesn’t work for you anymore, you have plenty of alternatives to choose from. Here’s another good thing: you don’t have to sort through all those plans yourself. After all, we could be talking about dozens of Medicare plans, depending on where you live. Just go to Healthpilot and answer a few questions about how you use healthcare. Then we’ll search available plans and recommend a selection of plans that meet your specific healthcare needs.

Give your Medicare plan a check-up this AEP.

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period is a great opportunity to make sure you still have the right Medicare plan. But too many people pass up this opportunity and end up stuck with plans that are too expensive or don’t provide enough coverage. Make sure you aren’t one of them.

You can take full advantage of this enrollment period every year to make sure you have the right coverage, and you can do it in a matter of minutes. Healthpilot is a free website that makes it easier to shop Medicare plans without any obligation to enroll. Our technology predicts what coverage you would get from each available plan and what it could cost. We look beyond copays and premiums to factor in things like deductibles and coinsurance, too. You can then review your estimated out-of-pocket costs and savings for each plan compared to Original Medicare.

Once you choose a plan, you can enroll without leaving Healthpilot.com. And if you do enroll in your Medicare plan through Healthpilot, we’ll alert you if a plan that may be better for you becomes available.


Healthpilot.com is free with no obligation to enroll. Healthpilot.com is owned and operated by Healthpilot Technologies LLC, a licensed health insurance agency, also doing business as Healthpilot Insurance Services in the state of California.  Healthpilot is not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.  This article is a solicitation of insurance.