Nine things you should know about Medicare

It's important to research Medicare so you can decide how you want to receive your benefits. Here are nine things we think you should understand. Our friendly licensed sales agents are here to help you find the plan that’s right for your personal circumstances.

Enrolling in Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare

Enrolling due to age

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Enrolling due to age

If you're new to Medicare, your initial enrollment period starts three months before your 65th birthday, continues during the month of your birthday, and ends three months after you turn 65. It’s important you understand the enrollment rules, as there can be penalties if you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible.

Enrolling due to a disability

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Enrolling due to a disability

If you're under 65 and receive disability benefits from Social Security or benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, you'll automatically get Medicare after your 24th consecutive month on these benefits.

Working beyond 65

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Working beyond 65

If you're working beyond the age 65, you may delay Part B enrollment without penalty depending on you or your spouse's current employment insurance cover.

Doctors and drugs

Choosing your own doctor

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Choosing your own doctor

Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans let you see any doctor who accepts Medicare patients. Medicare Advantage plans may only let you see doctors within their network, with some limited exceptions.

Referrals and specialists

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Referrals and specialists

Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans let you see specialists (who accept Medicare patients) without a referral. Some Medicare Advantage plans insist you get a referral from your primary care doctor before you can see a specialist.

Prescription drugs

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Prescription drugs

Most prescription drugs aren’t covered on Original Medicare, but you can enroll in a private stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan to help cover the costs. Alternatively, many Medicare Advantage plans often include prescription drugs as part of the coverage.

Pharmacies, penalties and travel

Pharmacy costs

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Pharmacy costs

If you choose a plan that offers drug coverage, the price quoted may be based on using a particular pharmacy. Buying from other pharmacies may cost you more.

Late enrollment penalties

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Late enrollment penalties

If you don't enroll in Part B or drug coverage when you first become eligible, you may incur late enrollment penalties. These penalties will be added to your monthly premium for your entire time on Medicare. The size of the penalty depends on how long you went without coverage.

Traveling with Medicare

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Traveling with Medicare

Some plans only cover you within their service area, with certain exceptions. Others cover you in all states as long as you visit a doctor that accepts Medicare. You can even get emergency coverage when you travel abroad from some plans.

Ready to find a plan?

“I’m Mary-Beth*. I can carefully walk you through our step-by-step process to help you find a plan that meets your needs.”

Find a plan* Mary-Beth is a digital avatar and not a licensed sales agent.

“I’m Mary-Beth*. I can carefully walk you through our step-by-step process to help you find a plan that meets your needs.”

Find a plan* Mary-Beth is a digital avatar and not a licensed sales agent.

Prefer to talk?

You can talk to one of our friendly licensed sales agents on the phone during our opening hours. They're fully trained and happy to help. No question is too small!

(866) 576-2956 or TTY 711

Monday to Friday 5am - 6pm PT

Still have questions?

Our Advice Center contains important information you should know about Medicare. So if you have a question, the answer is just a click away.

Visit our Advice Center


I wish I’d known this before I bought my plan…

Helpful things callers learn from our sales agents

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There can be penalties if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible to enroll.

Andrew Sivatjian
V.P. of Medicare Sales & Licensed Agent
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Some people think they’re stuck with the first plan they choose. They’re not. They can change to a new plan during the enrollment periods.

Silvia Barrera
Sales Manager & Licensed Agent
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I often explain to callers who are concerned about the cost of prescription drugs, that there are specific plans that can help reduce how much they have to pay.

Mark Laemmert
Medicare Site Leader & Licensed Agent