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The road to Medicare

Find the best path for you

This article was last updated on Oct. 1, 2020. 

Maybe this sounds like you. You're inching closer to your 65th birthday. You have recently retired or retirement is on the horizon, and you're looking forward to enjoying some extra free time with your spouse or family. What could be better, right? After years of hard work, it's now time for stress-free living. 

But, wait! Turning 65 means you have to sign up for Medicare. Or, at least start thinking about your options. Plan A, Plan B, Part D — it sounds so confusing! 

But, it doesn't have to be that way. Let us help you know what to do and when, depending on your situation. And, we can even make a game of it.

Get started on your journey to Medicare

Download this helpful infographic to better understand the choices you need to make regarding your Medicare coverage and when. Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before your 65th birthday, but it's never too early to start considering your options. 

Do you have health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer?

If you currently have health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer, you aren't collecting Social Security benefits yet, and you want to delay Part A and/or Part B, you don't need to do anything. If you're eligible for Part A and want to sign up, call Social Security or visit their website External Site.

Confused about whether or not you should take Parts A and B? Visit External Site. When coverage through your or your spouse's employer ends, you have 8 months to sign up for Medicare without a penalty. To sign up for Medicare, contact Social Security.

If you do not have health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer, congratulations! You’re in the Initial Enrollment Period. You can sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and three months after your birthday. But don't delay! Not signing up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period could cost you.

How you sign up for Medicare depends on this question: Have you been collecting social security benefits at least four months before our 65th birthday?

If you have not been collecting Social Security benefits, you need to do a little legwork to sign up for Medicare. You can: Visit the Social Security website. Call the Social Security national customer hotline at 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office. Once you’re signed up for Medicare, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail from Social Security.

If you have been collecting Social Security benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. That means you don’t have to do anything.

Consider additional Medicare coverage options

No matter what path you're on right now, you may want to consider coverage for additional health care costs Medicare doesn't pay. As long as you're enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and live in Iowa or South Dakota, you can consider MedicareBlue SupplementSM plans Opens New Window from Wellmark. Choose from six Medicare supplement plans to meet your specific health care needs. With any MedicareBlue Supplement plan, you have the freedom to choose any Medicare-participating doctor or hospital with no referrals.

Also consider a prescription drug plan Opens New Window to protect yourself from drug costs, and the option to purchase dental, vision and hearing benefits Opens New Window.

Wellmark members can feel confident knowing they have access to personalized support when they need it, as well as valuable extras like exclusive discounts on gym memberships through Blue365® and a free subscription to BlueSM magazine.

Still need more on the ins and outs of Medicare? We can help.

Request your free Medicare Matters guide Opens New Window to learn more about Medicare, like when you're eligible to enroll and about your medical, dental and vision coverage options.

If you live outside Iowa or South Dakota, go to External Site or call 888-630-2583 to find a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan near you.

Rather learn from others like you?

Check out our Medicare Matters video series. We sat down with people who are getting ready for Medicare. Learn with them as our experts listen to their questions and explain the answers!

This is a solicitation of insurance. Wellmark MedicareBlue Supplement plans are specific to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and can only be purchased by Iowa and South Dakota residents, respectively. MedicareBlue Supplement plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.