Review the Medicare handbook in the Resources section. It contains important information to guide decisions on whether to sign up for or delay enrollment in Part B (or a Medicare Advantage plan) and/or Part D.
Decide whether to start or delay Part B enrollment. Many employer plans offer broader coverage than Medicare. Enrolling in Part B coverage will trigger the open enrollment period for Medicare supplement coverage (Medigap). If you delay Medigap enrollment, you could lose the opportunity to purchase the policy of your choice at a later date.
Contact your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to enroll by telephone or set up an appointment. To find an SSA office, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov and select "Find a Social Security Office" from the menu on the left side of the screen. This should be done approximately three months before your 65th birthday even if you do not plan to retire.
If you wish to cancel your employer coverage, wait until Medicare coverage begins.
Determine how to receive your Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage offers a variety of plans administered by private insurers as an alternative to original Medicare. These plans charge a premium in addition to the Part B premium, but may have a broader set of benefits. Beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage do not need (and cannot enroll in) Medigap plans.
Select a prescription drug plan (if you wish to receive drug coverage). Medicare maintains a convenient tool for comparing benefits, premiums and ratings for Part D plans. You can delay Part D coverage and enroll later if your employer coverage is equivalent to or better than the "standard" Part D plan. Contact your employer to determine whether your policy meets this test.
Use the Part D plan finder in the Resources section to find and enroll in a drug plan.
Decide whether to enroll in a Medicare supplement. These plans, referred to as Medigap policies, cover deductibles, co-payments and services not covered by original Medicare.
The Medigap compare tool in the Resources section can help you find the best plan for your needs.
If you or your spouse is still working and you are receiving employer health coverage, special rules on enrollment apply. Many working Medicare beneficiaries elect to obtain Part A coverage, retain their employer health benefits and delay enrollment in Part B and prescription drug coverage.