Medicare is complex and navigating Medicare on your own can be tough. With a few key points listed below, I hope to help clear up your confusion regarding Medicare. In life, especially when it comes to retirement, it is essential that you make informed decisions because your choices can make or break your savings.
You can sign up for Medicare before turning 65.
Are you aware that even before your 65th birthday, you can enroll in Medicare? Your initial enrollment period for Medicare begins three months before the month you turn 65 and lasts three months after that month. That’s a seven-month period to enroll in Medicare. If you don’t want your coverage to be delayed, enroll during the first three months of your initial enrollment period while you are 64.
You may want to pay those Part B premiums beginning when you are first eligible.
Everyone pays for Part B, and the penalty for late enrollment is 10 percent extra above the standard premium for every full 12-month period you delay enrolling. If you have another form of health coverage, you shouldn’t have to pay a penalty. Contact Social Security within 8 months of leaving a job and before you enroll in Medicare.  Social Security will mail you a form for your employer to complete so you can submit it when signing up for Medicare.
A general enrollment period for Part A and Part B is available every year between January 1 and March 31 for those who don’t enroll when first eligible. If you enroll then, your coverage will begin July 1.
When can you sign up for Medigap?
In addition, when you are first eligible for Medicare, you can get a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap insurance) to fill in the holes in Medicare’s benefits. If you have a pre-existing health problem, you better use this to your advantage since your Medigap application can’t be declined based on your health when you first become eligible for Medicare. Some states offer a similar open enrollment opportunity to beneficiaries under 65.
When can you sign up for Medicare Advantage?
Of course, you do have an alternative to original Medicare bolstered with a Medigap plan, and maybe a Part D Prescription Drug plan. Medicare Advantage or MA plans offer Medicare Part A and B benefits from private health insurance companies. Since these plans are subsidized by the fed, the premiums aren’t bad, at all. In fact, some even cost nothing above the Part B premium you’ll be paying anyway. And, many Advantage plans offer extra benefits, like help to pay for dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses.
If you start with original Medicare and want to switch to an Advantage plan in a later year, you’ll have annual open enrollment periods (October 15 until December 7). With MA plans, your application cannot be declined unless you have end-stage renal disease. All other health problems are guaranteed acceptance.'

Jim McFadden has over 11 years of executive-level experience in the health insurance industry, is a youth baseball, softball and football coach, and has one of the worst fantasy football records in the world.