• Health, Advocacy

What freelancers need to know about enrolling in Medicare

It’s October, which means it’s almost time for freelancers to make important decisions about their 2018 health insurance. For freelancers over 65, that means considering your options with Medicare.

You can join Medicare if you’re 65 or older and:

  • You are either a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States, and
  • You or your spouse worked at least 10 years in Medicare-covered employment

You should enroll within 60 days of this important birthday. Medicare Open Enrollment is the one time during the year that you can update and change your coverage, or join Medicare if you didn’t sign up around your birthday.

Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15, 2017 to December 7, 2017, and you’ll want to choose your plan during this window to ensure you have coverage in 2018.

Medicare Advantage

One simple way to get all of your coverage at once is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. These are offered by private insurance companies and typically combine coverage for doctors, hospitals, and pharmacy in one plan. Because Medicare is a government program, the private insurance company receives funding from the government, and the monthly premium for these plans can be as low as $0.

(See our favorite EmblemHealth Medicare plan in the New York area, for example).

Medicare Through the Government

The original Medicare is a government-run program and includes three different components:

  • Part A covers hospital stays and other inpatient care such as skilled nursing facilities
  • Part B covers doctor visits, preventative care and other outpatient services such as diagnostic testing.
  • Part D covers prescriptions.

Choosing plans

You can enroll in the original Medicare coverage and choose to supplement it with a private Medicare plan that helps “fill the gaps.” So it’s important to clarify if the plan you are considering is intended to replace your Medicare coverage (like a Medicare Advantage plan) or add to your Medicare coverage (like a “MediGap” or “Supplement” plan).

Here is some more information about your options:

  • Medicare Advantage - Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, and include both hospital (Part A) and medical (Part B) coverage. Enroll in these instead of enrolling in the original Medicare offered by the government.
  • Medicare Supplement - Also known as “MediGap,” Medicare Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies to add to the coverage offered by the government. Enroll in these when you are also enrolled in original Medicare (Parts A and B).
  • Prescription Coverage - Original Medicare does not include pharmacy coverage. Make sure to confirm which prescriptions are covered, and consider adding a Part D pharmacy plan to your package.

Sign up for Medicare through Freelancers Union

In New York? Check out our favorite EmblemHealth Medicare Advantage plan.

Outside of New York? Talk to our phone agents to learn more and enroll at 844-533-2893.

Need help understanding plans? Here’s a glossary of health insurance terms.

Nathan Bransford Nathan Bransford is the author of "How to Write a Novel" and the "Jacob Wonderbar" series. He blogs about the writing and publishing process at

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