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Health Insurance Basics

Making Your Move to Medicare From Health Insurance

August 07, 2017

You’ll be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. This infographic shows how to smoothly transition to Medicare from regular health insurance, once you have the option.

Infographic Text


Maybe you currently have health insurance, but you’ll soon be eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, you only have to sign up once, you can review your Medicare health and prescription coverage every year and make changes.

Here's how to smoothly transition to Medicare from health insurance.

Set a Date
  • For most people, the initial enrollment period or the first time you can enroll starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after it.
  • Don’t wait to enroll, or you could pay higher coverage costs and find limited choices.
  • Open enrollment to change Medicare Advantage and/or Part D Prescription Drug Plans coverage is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 for an effective date of Jan. 1, 2018.
Select Your Plan
  • Choose Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and/or Part B (medical insurance).
  • Medicare provides coverage directly; you choose providers who accept Medicare and you usually pay deductibles, coinsurance, and a monthly premium.
  • Decide if you want stand-alone Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D).
  • Decide if you want Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap) coverage for additional hospital bills and other medical expenses.


  • Decide if you want a Medicare Advantage Plan, often called a "Part C Plan.” These Part C plans are offered by Medicare-approved private companies.
    • If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare, which includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), but your health insurance is from the Medicare Advantage Plan instead of from Original Medicare. You’ll still be responsible for Part B’s premium and any monthly premium, deductible, copayments, or coinsurance associated with the Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Decide if you want Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D).
  • If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, make sure your favorite doctor is, too. The other options are to choose a new provider who is in the plan, or choose to pay higher costs to stay where you are.

Costs and coverage for Parts A and B are the same nationwide. Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Part D vary by state and sometimes by county.

Make Sure
  • If you have other coverage, such as employer or union, Medicaid, TRICARE, or veterans’ benefits, you may not need more coverage through Medicare Advantage. Maybe you still want Original Medicare, however. Investigate how what you have works with Medicare.
  • When you transition to Medicare from health insurance, add up all your costs. Don’t just count premiums, but also do the math with copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.
  • If you need extra financial help, go online, call, or visit your local Social Security office.

It may seem like a lot to learn in the beginning, so take time to learn all your options. Then you’ll gain an understanding of what you need to know to transition to Medicare from health insurance. To learn more about Medicare, go to