Know when to Enroll in Medicare
Most people first become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. You can enroll any time within the three months before your 65th birthday month, the month of your birthday and three months after.
- If you retire or your employer coverage ends after age 65, you have a two month Special Election Period to enroll in a Medicare plan. If you're not planning to retire and continue to have employer coverage, you may not need to consider a Medicare plan. Check with your benefits administrator to see how your employer coverage works with Original Medicare Parts A and B.
- If you're self-insured and Medicare-eligible, review what your policy covers today and compare with a Medicare health plan. You could save more money on your health care costs.
Be sure to enroll at least 30 days before your current coverage ends to avoid any lapse in coverage and to avoid Medicare's late enrollment penalty.1 For some plans, if you don't enroll when you first become eligible you may be denied coverage or have to pay a higher premium.
Whether you are enrolling yourself or helping someone else choose a plan, here are some helpful questions to ask:
- Does your doctor accept the plan?
- Are you taking any prescriptions? Are they covered by the plan?
- Does the plan fit your budget? Be sure to consider all costs like annual deductible, monthly premiums and copays.
- Do you wish to see any doctor you choose?
- Are you willing to change doctors if it means saving money on your health care costs?
- Are you looking for a plan that includes hearing and vision services?
- Does your plan offer wellness programs to help quit smoking, a nurse hotline, weight loss tools or fitness programs?
Review your choices
Depending on location, there could be several Medicare plan choices available.
- Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
- Original Medicare + Part D prescription drug plan
- Original Medicare + Medicare Supplement plan
- Original Medicare + Part D + Medicare Supplement plan
- Original Medicare + Medicare Advantage plan (may include Part D)
When you enroll in a Medicare plan, you're not locked into that plan permanently. If your health care needs change over time, you'll have the opportunity to change plans at least once a year during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) from October 15th - December 7th. Be sure to review your health coverage every year during the AEP so you have the coverage needed for the upcoming year.
If you'd like to learn how each Medicare plan works visit Learn About Medicare. You'll find helpful tools and videos to give you the confidence you need with the Medicare decision process. Also, see our online tool to compare plan costs from UnitedHealthcare.
1If you qualify for extra help, you will not have a late-enrollment penalty (LEP). Also, if you have other prescription coverage at least as good as Medicare (also known as creditable coverage), you may not be assessed a LEP.
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.