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Many retired Americans depend on Medicare, a form of health insurance from the federal government, to cover their health care costs. But even those who don’t plan on accessing Medicare for several years can benefit from learning how this program will impact their future retirement expenses.
U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents over the age of 65 are eligible. They also must have worked at least 10 years in a job that withheld Medicare taxes from their paycheck. Some workers with a disability or certain chronic diseases may also be eligible.
Medicare consists of four parts. Enrollees may participate in one or more of them.
Sign up for benefits three months before you turn 65, regardless of when you want to receive Medicare benefits. At that time, you’ll also be asked to decide if you want to enroll in Part B coverage. Though your Medicare coverage can be changed, waiting to enroll can cause delays in obtaining it, as well as potentially higher monthly premiums.
Review your Medicare coverage annually to ensure it still meets your needs. Consult your plan administrator for the dates of your annual Open Enrollment Period, which is the time you can make changes to your plan.
Understanding your Medicare coverage choices can help you make smart decisions about your health care during retirement.
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A benefit period begins the day you are admitted to the hospital and ends when you haven’t received care as an inpatient for 60 days in a row.
A Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance, sold by private companies, can help pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.