7 things to do before you enroll in a Medicare plan

How can you prepare yourself to find the right Medicare plan? Take a look at our 7-step checklist and we’ll walk you through it.

Approaching 65 is different for everyone. You may already be retired, thinking about retirement or planning to keep your job for a while. No matter when you retire, you want to make sure you have the right health insurance coverage.

Here are seven things to check off your list when planning for health care after 65. Click on the image below to view the full pdf version and print for future use:

[Click on the image to see the full pdf with more information]


1. Take a look at your current health plan

What kind of coverage do you have now? Will your health needs change once you turn 65? Knowing what health care services you use the most will help you decide what benefits you’ll need covered under your Medicare plan.

 2. Browse Medicare and health insurance websites

Not all Medicare plans are the same. It’s a good idea to research what options are out there, even if you’re not purchasing in the near future. By visiting health insurance websites, you’ll get a sense of company values, the extra perks they offer, and their Medicare Star Ratings.

 3. Get to know Medicare Star Ratings

Each year, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) measures health plans in a number of areas. The scale ranges from one to five stars, with five being the top score a plan can get. Some of the categories plans get rated on include preventive care, prescription drug services and customer support. Think of these ratings as a way to tell which plans are doing a great, or not so great, job. Plans list their star ratings on their websites. You can also find the star ratings listed here.

 4. Learn about your options at community meetings

Most health insurance companies that offer Medicare plans host informational meetings around your city. A Medicare expert from the company can walk you through your options and answer your questions. It’s a great place to learn more about Medicare and get one-on-one time with a trusted source. Most companies post their community meetings on their website.

5. Keep track of your medicines

It’s important to take a quick inventory of the meds you’re on, even if it’s just one or two. It might be a good idea to talk with your doctor to see if there are medicines you may be likely to take after 65. This will help you look for plans with the right amount of prescription drug coverage for your needs.

6. Ask your doctor(s) if they accept Medicare

Some doctors choose not to take Medicare as insurance. If you’re hoping to keep your doctor after you transition to Medicare, make sure he or she sees patients with Medicare. You can call the insurance company you’re thinking of buying from and ask if that doctor takes the plan, or call the doctor’s office directly.

7. Enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B (Original Medicare)

Before you can sign up for a private Medicare plan, you first need to enroll in Original Medicare, which is hospital and medical coverage provided by the federal government. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you should get your Medicare card in the mail from the Social Security Administration (SSA) three months before you turn 65. If you don’t see it, give them a call at 800-772- 1213. You can also email them, or stop by their office. They’ll confirm your eligibility and answer questions you may have.