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Senior News

Are you soon turning 65 or are you currently 65+ but are still working? It is important that you have a basic understanding of Medicare’s enrollment periods. Medicare is federal health insurance for people who are 65 or older. It also covers certain younger people with disabilities and people with end-stage renal disease. In this article, I will give you an overview of the most common enrollment scenarios for those who are 65 or older.

If you are drawing Social Security for at least four months before turning 65, you will automatically be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. Three months before you turn 65, Social Security will send you out a welcome packet that includes your Medicare card.

If you are drawing Social Security, working and have coverage through qualifying working group health coverage, you can choose to decline your enrollment into Medicare. To do this, you will need to follow the instructions provided in your welcome packet or by contacting Social Security.

If you are not currently drawing Social Security, and do not have health coverage through qualifying working coverage, then you have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period. It begins three months before your birthday month and continues for three months after your birthday month. If you want your coverage to start the month you turn 65, then you need to sign up during the three months before your birthday month. If you sign up during the month of your birthday or during the three months after your birthday, your coverage will begin the first of month following enrollment. If your birthday is on the first of the month, your seven-month Initial Enrollment period will begin four months before your birthday month and will continue for two months following your birthday month. When you sign up before your birthday month, your coverage will begin the first of the month before your birthday month. If you sign up during the month of your birthday or during the following two months, your coverage will begin the first of the month following enrollment.

If you are currently working for an employer that has 20 or more employees and you have group health coverage (or if your spouse is working and you are covered through your spouse’s coverage), then you usually have the option to delay your enrollment in Medicare. Before you decide to delay enrollment, you should always check with the employer to see how Medicare will work with your group health coverage. Also, if you have a high deductible health insurance plan and contribute to a Health Savings Account, you cannot contribute to the HSA once you enroll in Medicare. If you decide or have decided to delay enrollment into Medicare, you will want to stop contributing to the HSA account six months before you enroll in Medicare.

Your situation may be a bit different than the ones described. Never assume that what someone else does for Medicare enrollment is what you need to do. It is always best to start looking into Medicare at least three months before you turn 65.

At Roosevelt County Aging Services, both Julie Bach and I are SHIP counselors. We have gone through training to be able to assist you with your Medicare questions, and if we don’t know the answer, we will find it. Call 406-653-6221 to set up an appointment to discuss Medicare or for assistance with enrolling. You can also stop by the Roosevelt County Senior Services building at 124 Custer St. (north of the courthouse) in Wolf Point to set up an appointment. We are also able to travel to Culbertson and meet people at the Roosevelt County Complex. You can also go to to review your options and you can go to to create an account and enroll online.

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