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Navigating the Transition from Covered California to Medicare
It’s a fact of life that as we age, our health care needs change. For many California residents, the transition from a Covered California health insurance plan to Medicare can be a daunting process. Yet, it’s a necessary rite of passage for anyone turning 65, and with the right guidance and understanding, it can be a smooth and seamless transition.
Understanding Your Current Coverage
Covered California is the health insurance marketplace in the state of California, where individuals, families, and small businesses can get brand-name health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). However, once you reach the age of 65, you are eligible for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors.
Why Transition to Medicare?
Once you qualify for Medicare at age 65, it’s generally recommended to transition from a Covered California plan to Medicare. Medicare is designed to offer more comprehensive coverage for seniors and often at a lower cost, especially if you’ve paid Medicare taxes during your working years. Continuing with a Covered California plan while being eligible for Medicare could leave you paying more out of pocket for your healthcare expenses.
Transitioning to Medicare
Here’s how you can go about transitioning from Covered California to Medicare:
Timing is Key
Enrolling in Medicare is time-sensitive. You have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) which begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. This is the best time to enroll in Medicare to avoid late enrollment penalties.
Notify Covered California
You need to inform Covered California that you’re switching to Medicare. You can do this by calling Covered California’s customer service and letting them know about your plans to transition. Once you have enrolled in Medicare, you should cancel your Covered California plan, effective the day your Medicare coverage starts.
Enroll in Medicare
To enroll in Medicare, you can apply online at the Social Security website, visit your local Social Security office, or call Social Security. In some cases, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare. This typically happens if you are already receiving Social Security benefits.
Selecting Your Medicare Coverage
You have several options when it comes to selecting your Medicare coverage:
- Medicare Part A: This covers hospital insurance and is usually premium-free if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working.
- Medicare Part B: This covers medical insurance and requires a monthly premium.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage): These are bundled plans offered by private companies approved by Medicare. They include Part A and Part B, and usually Part D, which covers prescription drugs.
- Medicare Part D: This covers prescription drugs. You can add it to the original Medicare, some Medicare cost plans, some Medicare private-fee-for-service plans, and Medicare medical savings account plans.
Remember, every individual’s circumstances are unique, so it’s essential to consider your healthcare needs and financial situation before making a decision.
The transition from Covered California to Medicare is a significant milestone in your healthcare journey. With careful planning and the right guidance, you can navigate this process with confidence and ease, ensuring you have the coverage you need as you enter this new chapter of your life. It’s always advisable to seek assistance from a health insurance advisor or counselor to ensure that you’re making the most informed decisions about your health coverage.