Turning 65: Another milestone known as Medicare

Turning 65: Another milestone known as MedicareRecently, I began the rite of passage for another milestone in my life: turning 65. (And thank you to all those muttering under your breath, “I didn’t think she was THAT old!”) Armed with advice from my high school classmates via our reunion Facebook page and our Association’s website, I sat down at my computer to enroll in Medicare.

I was surprised by how easy it was to enroll online. My application was approved by the end of the week (which I could check online by using my confirmation number) and my Medicare card arrived in the mail a week later. Along the way, I learned a thing or two:

  • Somehow the whole world has received notice that you are soon turning 65. Every insurance company you’ve heard of and those you haven’t will start sending you information and calling you about Medicare supplemental insurance plans. Military retirees, their spouses, and survivors shouldn’t need those policies because they qualify for Tricare for Life, which picks up the cost shares not paid by Medicare. But, remember—to be eligible for TRICARE for Life, you MUST sign up for Medicare Part B!
  • You want to sign up for Medicare before you turn 65. If you wait until afterwards, not only will you turn 65 anyway (it’s inevitable), but you may also need to pay a penalty. I signed up in May before my August birthday.
  • You will start using Medicare at the beginning of your birth month. So even though you are not yet technically 65, Medicare thinks you are for part of the month.
  • You will need to get a new military ID card. My ID card was expiring in June so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. I took my new red, white, and blue Medicare card with me in June to renew my military ID card. But all they did at the ID card facility was laminate my Medicare card and renew my “old” military ID card. I have to go back in August when I’m officially on Medicare. Then I’ll get a military ID card that doesn’t expire (and hopefully has a better picture).
  • You will need to update DEERS too.
  • It took me a while to discover how I was supposed to pay for my new Medicare Part B. (You don’t pay a premium for Part A.) If you’re already receiving Social Security, they deduct it from your paycheck. Otherwise, they send you a bill.

So now I’m waiting for August. 65!!! Yikes!

What milestone have you recently experienced in your journey as a military spouse? What advice do you have to share?

Susan-EversBy Susan Evers, Volunteer Services Coordinator, West Region


Add yours
  1. 1
    Col.Patricia Halsey-Munroe, USMC retired

    And…if you have FEHB, you can “suspend” your health insurance, by submitting your request to suspend to OPM, at least 2 months before age 65yrs with proof required by OPM.

    AND…schedule your annul physical exam for your birth month, especially if you are starting with a new physician.

  2. 2
    Mona Hatfield

    If Tricare for Life is free, but I *have* to enroll in Medicare Part B AND I have to pay for Medicare, then I don’t see that as being free. Am I missing some pertinent piece of information?

    • 3
      Branching Out: A blog by the National Military Family Association

      TRICARE for Life serves as a supplement or second payer to Medicare. Previous to the enactment of TRICARE for Life in the early 2000’s, retired military and their family members over the age of 65 had to pay for supplement to Medicare and were only eligible for space available care through the military treatment facilities (MTFs). They still had to pay for Medicare.

      All Americans over the age of 65 (or 62 in some cases) need to pay for Medicare. Some pay for supplements to cover what Medicare does not. TRICARE for Life offers you a supplement without paying an enrollment fee to the Department of Defense. The supplement is free to you.

      • 4
        Mona Hatfield

        Right, so it’s not free. It is no longer my primary health care, as TRICARE would be. So the moniker of TRICARE for Life is very misleading.

  3. 6
    Steve Guldseth

    It seems to me as a retiree we’re getting screwed…I pay less now through Tricare and when I turn 65 and make less money I’ll have to pay more. What happened to health care for life being retired.

  4. 7

    Just remember that under Tricare for Life you will no linger be paying as anything out of pocket for medical services. No copays and no deductable. Tricare picks up your deductable from Medicare. So my husbands repeated tests and hospitalization for heart disease have cost us zip,zero nothing. That’s a big deal when your talking about a huge bill. Just be careful about annual tests. Mammograms and certain blood work requires you wait 365 + 1 day from the last test and cho!esterol screening are only paid if your Dr provides a related diagnostic code

  5. 10
    James Clark

    I turn 65 in August. I qualify for Medicare Part A and B. Is TFL automatic? In other words, do I have to do anything. Also, military ID’s–should I wait until I turn 65 to get my ID renewed and will it indicate TFL?

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