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Making the Choice: Health Insurance Options For Seniors

Now that you have turned 65, you qualify for Medicare. This article looks at some of the benefits of enrolling and some of the options you should consider.















It does not matter if it just happened or if it happened a while ago. You might fight it. You might go out of your way to resist, but sooner or later, you will be assimilated into the collective. You are over 65 years old. You are now, officially, a Senior Citizen.

Along with the change on the calendar, there will be other things to consider. Some will be retiring from primary jobs. Some will just be looking to slow down a little. Some of you might just shrug and go to work like any other day. Regardless of what you do, you should be considering your options when it comes to health care.

A lot of people will begin looking at Medicare, regardless of if you are planning to continue working or not. With the increase in life expectancy and cost of living, not all of us can retire at 65. Even if you will be keeping your employers health insurance, now is the time to enroll. There are all sorts of deadlines for Medicare, and if you miss them, it can cost you.

While you will not forfeit anything if you do not sign up right away, you could be hit with penalties. For example, you will pay a higher premium for four years if you are late for Part A. The penalty for Part B is an increase in your monthly premium of up to ten percent for each full year you wait to enroll, but that is for as long as you have the coverage.

If you have insurance, at least look at signing up for Part A. For most people, this coverage will actually be free. Besides, once you qualify, it is possible that your current insurance will change how it works for you. In some cases, it will change because you qualify, whether you sign up for the coverage or not.

Keep in mind that having both will not hurt you. All that is typically going to happen is that when the service provider, (doctor, hospital or whatever) sends out the bill, it will be sent to the primary insurance provider first. In most cases, that would be Medicare before your health insurance. Anything not paid would then be sent down the line before you receive a bill.

If you are not going to continue to carry other medical insurance, then Medicare would become your primary. There is nothing wrong with deciding to use it since you quality for it. However, you need to be aware that Medicare does not always cover all of your expenses. To make up this difference, you can choose to purchase a Medical Supplement Insurance Policy, (Medigap). Medigap is sold to you by private companies and will cost you an individual premium. These policies can cover things like copayment, deductibles and co-insurance. Remember that these plans are to supplement your Medicare plan. They do not offer additional benefits.

Not carrying insurance brings us to the Health Insurance Marketplace If you were one of the people who did not have health insurance in 2013 when Obama’s Affordable Care Act forced the issue, you should have registered for insurance on you own. Now that you qualify and have enrolled with Medicare, you meet the requirements. You can, if you want, discontinue your other insurance.

There is no penalty for canceling. However, if you are receiving any sort of tax credits or other benefits because of your insurance, those will stop once the Medicare Part A kicks in.

So, when all is said and done, there are a few basic bits of advice to take away from this.

  • Enroll in Medicare when you qualify so that you can avoid the penalties
  • Consider carefully before you cancel your other insurance. It does not hurt to have more than one
  • If you want more insurance to cover anything that Medicare does not cover, you need to look into private Medigap policies.
  • Remember that you are going to lose the tax benefits, but that probably is not as bad as the penalties.
  • Happy Birthday. You made another milestone. Celebrate it and look for the next one.

For more information on enrollment, visit The Medicare Rights Center website ( The primary government Medicare website is ( If you would rather go straight to the most common questions, go to the government FAQ

Do you prefer to get help from within your state? Then check out SHIP, the stat health insurance assistance programs. This website will give you the contact information for your state, including a phone number if you would rather just speak directly to someone.

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