What Does it Mean to “Age-In” to Medicare?

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Greg DuretteBy Greg Durette, Florida Health Connector

As many times as I have said the term “age-in” to folks when discussing Medicare, it has never failed to elicit a visceral response such as, “What do you mean with this age-in thing?!” or “I don’t feel aged-in!”

The fact of the matter is, “aging-in” means you are turning 65 soon, and it is a good thing. There are many we all know that didn’t make it to that milestone. Bravo for making it and cheers for many more.

Yes, we are in the middle of the Open Enrollment Period which runs from January 1 – March 31 of every year pre-dominantly for Advantage Plan members (you can re-read my article from last month for more information about the ins and outs of that). But, that does not change the fact many people have birthdays all year long and are actually aging-in during this time as well.

What generally happens is, folks get confused between what they see on TV with all the pitches about “time running out,” and what they can actually do during the aging-in period. Let me attempt to de-mystify it a little bit here.

There is a period of time when a person ages-in and becomes eligible for Medicare. Typically, this period of time is three months before the month in which they turn 65 and three months after the month in which they turn 65. Do the math and you will see this is a seven-month period of time around your birthday. There are a few other exceptions to this eligibility period, but those will have to be saved for another article or very long-winded phone call for the braver among us!

The first order of business is to obtain your Part A and B (if desired or needed) through Social Security. Without adding a litany of boring details as to qualifications for each, suffice it to say Part A is typically $0 premium for most folks and Part B for 2024 will typically cost $174.70 per month. The Part B premium is means tested and can get a little complicated—certainly more complicated than can be described in this article. Again, suffice it to say, some could pay much more or much less, depending on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income from two years prior unless you apply for a break based on current income. We have a form for that.

If you wish to avoid the LIFELONG penalties, you will have to have Part B and Part D (prescription coverage) in place at the time of first becoming eligible. As a reminder, eligibilities are one of those things unique to each person’s circumstances. So, it is important to know how these things apply to you.

If you choose to obtain a Supplement, commonly called a “Medi-Gap” policy, you will need to also obtain a separate Part D prescription plan as Supplement plans DO NOT INCLUDE such. If you choose to obtain an Advantage plan, the Part D prescription coverage is typically INCLUDED.

As you can see, this can, and usually is, a very confusing time for most folks used to having traditional insurance their entire lives. Suddenly, you are thrust into this new system where everybody and their cousin is calling and/or mailing you every single day with their “better option.”

Your best option is the one that best suits you. Maybe it is a great price. Maybe it is a great network of providers. Maybe it is just the peace of mind knowing you have someone you can rely on for information when you need it.

If there is only one take away you receive from this article, it would be to work with someone, like me, that can help you navigate the local landscape and help you completely understand this otherwise very confusing time in life.
Happy New Year!

Based in Niceville, Greg Durette is a qualified, licensed agent with Florida Health Connector providing Medicare throughout the state. He has been in the insurance industry for nearly 40 years and can be reached at his office at 850-842-2400 or his cell at 978-509-2941.