Entering into Medicare often marks the beginning of retirement for many Americans. Since health care is increasingly important as we age, making the most of Medicare is a key part of anyone’s plan for living a vital and enjoyable life in retirement. To be prepared, you need to know when you’ll enter Medicare. Read this brief guide to California Medicare eligibility requirements in 2023 to be ready for your retirement journey.
California Medicare eligibility requirements in 2023 are generally in line with the rest of the county. Eligibility for Original Medicare, Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) is the same in all 50 states. Since Part A and B will form the backbone of your health insurance coverage in retirement, we’ll review those rules first.
Unless you qualify for Medicare early, due to certain disability statuses or chronic health conditions, you’ll have your first chance to enter Medicare when you turn 65. This is called ageing-in to Medicare, and it’s how most people get their coverage.
Many people will be automatically enrolled in Medicare the month they turn 65. This will happen for those people who are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits. For those that delay taking Social Security until after age 65, you’ll have a seven month eligibility period to manually enroll. Your eligibility window includes:
You can enroll in Medicare at any time during this enrollment window. If you do this, your enrollment will be considered on-time and you won’t be subject to any late enrollment penalties.
You do have the right to delay taking Part B if you’re still covered by an employer plan. To use this exception, your employer must have more than 20 employees. If you work for a small employer, you’ll have to take Part B when you’re first eligible to avoid late enrollment penalties.
Once you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you’ll have the opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Insurance plan from a private insurance company. Most people do this in order to limit their out of pocket spending, and to get access to benefits beyond what Original Medicare offers. The three main kinds of private Medicare plans are:
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or standalone Prescription Drug Plan at any age, including before you turn 65 if you enter Medicare early.
California is one of the states that will allow you to get Medicare Supplement Insurance before you turn 65. Although you have the right to do this, you should know that you may not have access to all the Medigap options until you actually turn 65. It’s also possible that your premiums for Medigap coverage in California could be quite high if you enroll before you turn 65. If you choose to delay enrolling in a Medicare Supplement plan because you’re younger than 65, you’ll have a special opportunity to enroll when you do turn 65. You’ll also gain access to all the available plans once you’re 65, and the premiums will be lower.
Once you’re enrolled in the private Medicare plan of your choice, you’ll have the option to make changes to your coverage at least once a year during the Medicare Annual Election Period.
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