Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
Verify your medical group

Refer to your insurance card or call your insurance provider to determine your medical group.

You can also search for your primary care doctor to find the medical group you and your doctor belong to.

Driving Directions
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

5 common questions about aging into Medicare

March 10, 2022

Friends laughing in a park

As you get closer to your 65th birthday, you’ll need to make decisions about your Medicare coverage. From what options are available to how to enroll, there are a variety of things to consider.

Don Truong, director of sales at Sharp Health Plan, says that the more you know, the easier enrollment can be. He offers answers to five common Medicare questions.

  1. What Medicare options are available?
    “Medicare has three main parts,” Truong says. “Part A covers hospital insurance, Part B covers medical insurance, and Part D provides drug coverage.”

    Original Medicare includes Parts A and B. According to Truong, you will need to enroll in a separate Part D plan for prescription drug coverage. Unlike other types of health insurance, Medicare doesn’t offer plans for couples or families. You, your spouse and any dependents can enroll in separate plans.

    For those who’d like more coverage, a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) could be ideal.

    “A Medicare Advantage plan combines Parts A and B, and often Part D, coverage into one plan,” Truong says. “It can offer extra benefits, such as dental, hearing and vision.”

    Medicare supplements, also known as Medigap, are available too. Medigap plans help to cover the costs that aren’t included in Original Medicare. And while these plans may have high monthly premiums and do not cover Part D prescription drugs, you can be seen by any doctor nationwide who accepts Medicare.

  2. When can I enroll in Medicare?
    There are a few
    important enrollment periods to keep in mind. When you turn 65, your initial enrollment period begins.

    Initial enrollment period
    “You’ll have seven months to sign up for Medicare,” Truong explains. “This is the initial enrollment period, which typically starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month you turn 65.”

    If your birthday falls on the first day of the month, your initial enrollment period will begin and end earlier — starting four months before you turn 65 and ending 2 months after the month you turn 65.

    Open enrollment periods
    If you miss the initial enrollment period, you can sign up for Medicare during the annual open enrollment period, October 15 through December 7. Medicare Advantage also has an annual general enrollment period from January 1 through March 31.

    According to Truong, signing up during the general enrollment period may require you to pay a monthly late penalty if you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period. These periods are determined by qualifying life events, such as losing your current coverage or retiring after age 65. To avoid penalties, be sure to sign up within the initial enrollment period.

  3. When will my coverage start?
    “Generally, coverage begins on the first of the month,” Truong says. “But the exact date will depend on the month you enroll.”

    When you receive your red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail, you can check the lower right corner for the date that your Part A or Part B coverage will begin. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll find your coverage effective date — the day your coverage begins — on the member ID card from your health plan.

  4. How does retirement affect my Medicare coverage?
    “Consider your health insurance options several months before you retire,” Truong says. “You should also check with your employer to find out when your coverage will end to avoid penalties or a gap in coverage.”

    When your job-based health insurance coverage ends, you’ll be able to enroll in Medicare during a special enrollment period. Additionally,
    you don’t need to retire to qualify for Medicare coverage. If you or your spouse are still working, you can keep your employer-based health insurance until you’re ready to disenroll or you can enroll in Original Medicare.
  5. How do I know which Medicare plan is right for me?
    “Before you turn 65, take some time to evaluate your health needs and
    compare plans,” Truong says.

    Medicare evaluates plans based on a five-star rating system each year. Plans are rated on a scale of one to five stars, where one star indicates poor performance, and five stars indicates excellent performance. “
    Sharp Health Plan received five out of five stars from Medicare for 2022 and was the highest member-rated Medicare Advantage plan in San Diego,” Truong says.*

    “The quality of your health plan matters too,” adds Truong. “Sharp Health Plan’s newest offering, the
    Sharp Direct Advantage® VIP Plan, provides all the benefits of Original Medicare, with more value and savings to enjoy.”

Truong encourages people not to wait to learn more about Medicare. Avoid gaps in coverage and other fees by researching the different plans and enrollment periods before your 65th birthday.

Learn more about Sharp Health Plan’s free Medicare seminars and consultations, available in English and Spanish. Sharp Health Plan also offers additional resources explaining the parts of Medicare and the services they cover, eligibility and enrollment information, and more.

*Based on a 91% base group in the area of members’ overall rating of their health plan from the 2021 Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems® score survey results achieved by Sharp Health Plan and SCAN Health Plan.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

Call 1-800-827-4277 or view our detailed phone directory.

For medical or psychiatric emergencies, call 911 immediately.

Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process your price estimate if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.