If you have coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and will have Medicare eligibility in the near future, it’s a good idea to start planning for your coverage switch. You can keep your Marketplace plan until your Medicare coverage starts at which point you can cancel the Marketplace plan without penalty. What many people may not realize is that this change does not happen automatically, and if you don’t get it done, you could be responsible for some large health care premium costs.

Here’s why, once your Medicare Part A coverage starts you will no longer be eligible for any premium tax credit that you may have been receiving to offset costs for healthcare through the Marketplace. That means you will have to pay full price for the Marketplace plan, even though it may have limited benefits at that point. Many health care plans will coordinate benefits with Medicare, which will reduce what they actually pay towards any health care expenses.

The good news is that you can set up your change over in advance and avoid possible duplication of coverage while avoiding the economic issues we discussed. Once Medicare eligibility begins, you’ll have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up. For most people, this is three months before, the month of, and three months after their 65th birthday. Marketplace will allow you to set a predetermined end date, but you must do it at least fourteen days prior to day you want the coverage to end.

For information about Medicare call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit Medicare.gov and for Marketplace call 1-800-318-2596 or visit Healthcare.gov.

Locally, Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma, Inc., continues to serve the area with the finest in personalized health care for the entire family with locations in Afton and Grove. For details or to schedule an appointment contact (918) 257-8029 or (918) 801-7504 or check us out on the web at www.chcneo.com, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. A sliding payment scale is available for patients based on family size and income.

Lee Hilliard, D.Min., Th.D., CAC, is the Outreach and Enrollment Specialist at the Community Health Center of Northeast Oklahoma. For local enrollment assistance with Marketplace, Insure Oklahoma or SoonerCare, please contact Lee at 918-219-4486 or lhilliard@chcneo.org.