When to enroll in a Medicare plan

Turning 65?

As you become eligible for Medicare, it's important to prepare. The Social Security Administration advises people to file for Medicare benefits three months before the month in which they turn age 65.

If you already receive Social Security, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If not, you need to apply.

To make an appointment, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. You can also apply in person at your local Social Security office.

By applying in advance, the effective date will be the first day of the month in which you turn 65. For people with birth dates on the first day of the month, the effective date will be the first day of the month prior to their birth date. The Social Security Administration will send you a red, white and blue Medicare ID card with your Parts A and B effective date.

Don't delay applying for Medicare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the government program that administers Medicare, applies a financial penalty to persons who don't apply for Medicare coverage during their first eligibility period.

Already enrolled in Medicare?

Each year you may choose to either keep or change your Medicare coverage. The health care reform laws passed in 2010 changed the enrollment periods during which you can choose a plan, effective January 2011. Here's a brief overview of these changes.

Enrollment periods

Every year, you have an opportunity to change plans or insurance providers

Annual election period

The annual election period each year occurs between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 for coverage that begins Jan. 1 of the coming year. During this time, you can:

Changes made at the end of the year will be effective Jan. 1 of next year.

Annual Disenrollment Period

The legislation provides for a 45-day annual disenrollment period from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14. During this time, you can only drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. If you exercise this option, you will also be able to add a Part D prescription drug plan. You won't be able to switch from one Medicare Advantage and/or Part D prescription drug plan to another.

Special election periods

Special election periods provide an opportunity to enroll in or switch plans outside of the annual enrollment periods. You may be eligible for a special enrollment period if:

Contact Member Services for more information about the special enrollment period.

We expect changes driven by the health care reform laws to continue to evolve. As they do, you can count on us to make them — and their impacts on you — as easy to understand as possible.

Still have questions? Call us!

Call 1-888-563-3307 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 15 through Sept. 30, with weekend hours Oct. 1 through Feb. 14. TTY users call 711.

Current members

Call the Member Services number on the back of your ID card.

Prospective members

Call 1-888-563-3307 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, Feb. 15 through Sept. 30, with weekend hours Oct. 1 through Feb. 14. TTY users call 711.

Want us to call you? Just let us know!

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Important information about these plans

Medicare Plus Blue and Prescription Blue are PPO and PDP plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Medicare Plus Blue and Prescription Blue depends on contract renewal.

Medicare Plus Blue PPO

Medicare Plus Blue PPO is available to all Medicare beneficiaries who are Michigan residents and are entitled to receive services under Medicare Part A and enrolled in Part B.

With the exception of emergency or urgent care, it will cost more to get care from non-plan or non-preferred providers. Your responsibility will be greater out-of-network when the out-of-network coinsurance is based on the Medicare-allowed amount and the contracted amount is lower. You may receive services from any provider who accepts Original Medicare. Your out-of-pocket costs will be lower if you choose a network provider. To find a network provider, visit http://www.bcbsm.com/medicare/find-a-doctor/.

Prescription Blue PDP

Prescription Blue PDP is available to all Medicare beneficiaries who are Michigan residents entitled to receive services under Medicare Part A and/or enrolled in Part B.

Medicare Plus Blue PPO and Prescription Blue PDP

Premiums vary by county. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. You may enroll in only one Part D plan at a time.

Limitations, copayments and restrictions may apply.

Our network includes approximately 2,400 Michigan retail pharmacies, representing approximately 98 percent of all Michigan pharmacies. Nationwide, most chain pharmacies are in our network, as well as long-term care and home infusion pharmacies and Indian/Tribal/Urban (Indian Health Service) pharmacies.

In general, benefits are only available at contracted network pharmacies. Plan drugs may be covered in special circumstances; for instance, illness while traveling outside of the plan's service area where there is no network pharmacy. You may have to pay more than your normal cost-sharing amount if you get your drugs at an out-of-network pharmacy. Quantity limitation and restrictions may apply. In addition, you will likely have to pay the pharmacy's full charge for the drug and submit documentation to receive reimbursement from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For additional information on network pharmacies, please call Member Services at 1-877-241-2583, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, Feb. 15 through Sept. 30, with weekend hours Oct. 1 through Feb. 14. TTY users call 711. Certain services available 24/7 through our automated telephone response system. You may also write to: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, 600 E. Lafayette Blvd., Mail Code X521, Detroit, MI 48226.

If you decide to have your plan premium withheld from your Social Security check or deducted from your checking or savings account, it may take up to three months for the automatic deduction to begin. If your premium amount is currently withheld from your Social Security check or deducted from your checking or savings account and you wish to receive a monthly bill instead, the change may also take up to three months to become effective. During this time, you will be responsible for paying your premium.

The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan. Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, premium and or copayments/coinsurance may change on Jan. 1 of each year.

Medicare beneficiaries may enroll in Medicare Plus Blue PPO or Prescription Blue PDP through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at http://www.medicare.gov. BCBSM does not control Medicare's website and is not responsible for its content. You may only enroll in Medicare Plus Blue PPO or Prescription Blue PDP during specific times of the year.

For more information, please contact Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan at 1-888-563-3307. TTY users call 711. Hours are: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, Feb. 15 through Sept. 30, with weekend hours Oct. 1 through Feb. 14.

LegacySM Medigap

Legacy Medigap offers access to any hospital, doctor or other health care provider in the U.S. or its territories that accepts Medicare assignment. The plan does not require members to use a specified provider network. Legacy Medigap is a Medigap health insurance policy administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Neither Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan nor agents authorized to sell Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan policies are connected with Medicare.