How Do I Know Im Enrolled In Medicare
After you apply for Medicare, Social Security will review and process your application. Theyll contact you if they need more information.
When youre approved for Medicare Part A and/or Part B, Social Security will send you a welcome packet that includes the following:
- Your confirmation letter
- Your red, white and blue Medicare ID card
- A Welcome to Medicare booklet that walks you through decisions you may have to make with your Medicare coverage
- The Medicare & You handbook
If youve applied for a private Medicare plan such as a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost, Medigap or Medicare Prescription Drug plan, when your enrollment is accepted youll get a separate confirmation letter and ID card.
Medicare helps pay for your health care costs and covers preventive care including a visit with your doctor each year. So once you get Medicare Part B, schedule your initial Welcome to Medicare visit with your doctor. And each year you get an Annual Wellness Visit with your doctor.
For more helpful tips, review this checklist, how to use Medicare your first year.
What Happens If Medicare’s Contractor Decides The Penalty Is Wrong
If Medicares contractor decides that all or part of your late enrollment penalty is wrong, the Medicare contractor will send you and your drug plan a letter explaining its decision. Your Medicare drug plan will remove or reduce your late enrollment penalty. The plan will send you a letter that shows the correct premium amount and explains whether you’ll get a refund.
Canceling Your Marketplace Plan When You Become Eligible For Medicare
In most cases, if you have a Marketplace plan when you become eligible for Medicare, youll want to end your Marketplace coverage.
Don’t end your Marketplace plan until you know for sure when your new coverage starts. Once you end Marketplace coverage, you cant re-enroll until the next annual Open Enrollment Period .
Your Medicare coverage start date depends on your situation.
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Employer Or Military Retiree Coverage
If you or your spouse has an Employer Group Health Plan as retiree health coverage from an employer or the military , you may not need additional insurance. Review the EGHPs costs and benefits and contact your employer benefits representative or SHIIP to learn how your coverage works with Medicare.
Can I Decline Medicare Altogether
Medicare isnt exactly mandatory, but it can be complicated to decline. Late enrollment comes with penalties, and some parts of the program are optional to add, like Medicare parts C and D. Medicare parts A and B are the foundation of Medicare, though, and to decline these comes with consequences.
The Social Security Administration oversees the Medicare program, and recommends signing up for Medicare when you are initially eligible, even if you dont plan to retire or use your benefits right away. The exception is when you are still participating in an employer-based health plan, in which case you can sign up for Medicare late, usually without penalty.
While you can decline Medicare altogether, Part A at the very least is premium-free for most people, and wont cost you anything if you elect not to use it. Declining your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits completely is possible, but you are required to withdraw from all of your monthly benefits to do so. This means you can no longer receive Social Security or RRB benefits, and must repay anything you have already received when you withdraw from the program.
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Applying For Medicare By Phone
Just like applying online, applying for Medicare by phone is easy. You can contact a representative at 1-800-772-1213.
Depending on the volume of calls, there might be a wait time. If the wait time is above average, you can schedule an appointment to have a representative call you.
The only downfall with applying for Medicare by phone is that it can take longer compared to online. If youre ahead of the game and start well before your birthday, then applying by phone shouldnt cause any issues. If you do not wish to apply online or by phone, you can choose to do so in person.
What Are Important Medicare Decisions
Applying for Medicare Parts A and B is the first step. Other decisions related to Original Medicare can be made in the same timeframe:
- Should you enroll in Medicare Part D, which will cover the cost of your medications?
- Should you buy Medicare Supplement to cover expenses that arent included in Original Medicare?
- Should you replace Original Medicare with Medicare Part C ?
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Medicare Enrollment When Youre First Eligible For Medicare
This table is about traditional Medicare, Part A and Part B .
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.
|You want to do any of these||Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plan enrollment period|
||Annual Enrollment Period: October 15 December 7 each year
Note that you can usually enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, described above.
Delaying Medicare Parts A & B
If you qualify to delay both Medicare Parts A & B, you can do so without penalty as long as you enroll within eight months of either losing your employer coverage or ceasing to work, whichever comes first. You will enroll during a Special Enrollment Period and will need to also provide written proof of creditable drug coverage to avoid Part D penalties.
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How Much Is The Part D Penalty
The cost of the late enrollment penalty depends on how long you went without Part D or creditable prescription drug coverage.
Medicare calculates the penalty by multiplying 1% of the “national base beneficiary premium” times the number of full, uncovered months you didn’t have Part D or creditable coverage. The monthly premium is rounded to the nearest $.10 and added to your monthly Part D premium.
The national base beneficiary premium may change each year, so your penalty amount may also change each year.
Mrs. Martinez is currently eligible for Medicare, and her Initial Enrollment Period ended on May 31, 2017. She doesn’t have prescription drug coverage from any other source. She didn’t join by May 31, 2017, and instead joined during the Open Enrollment Period that ended December 7, 2019. Her drug coverage was effective January 1, 2020.
Since Mrs. Martinez was without creditable prescription drug coverage from June 2017December 2019, her penalty in 2021 was 31% of $33.06 , or $10.25 each month. Since the monthly penalty is always rounded to the nearest $0.10, she pays $10.30 each month in addition to her plan’s monthly premium.
Here’s the math:
.31 × $33.06 = $10.25
$10.25 rounded to the nearest $0.10 = $10.30
$10.30 = Mrs. Martinez’s monthly late enrollment penalty for 2021
Documents Needed If You Sign Up In Person
- An original or certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of United States citizenship or legal residency if not born in the U.S.
- Your Social Security card if you are already receiving benefits
- A copy of your most recent W-2 form and/or self-employment tax return
- U.S. military discharge papers if you served before 1968
- Health insurance information
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Disenrollment From Your First Medicare Advantage Plan
If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan when you first became eligible for Medicare, you have 12 months to disenroll from the plan and transition back to Original Medicare.
If you dropped a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan but wish to revert back again, you have 12 months to do so .
Your First Chance To Sign Up
Generally, when you turn 65. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period. It lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Avoid the penaltyIf you miss your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The penalty goes up the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you have to pay a Part A premium, also called Premium-Part A.
If You Havent Signed Up For Medicare At All Yet
If you did not sign up for any part of Medicare at 65, the best thing to do is either to call Social Security, or to go to your local Social Security office to enroll in Medicare A & B. Theyll ask you when you want Medicare to start, and you can coordinate it with the termination of your group plan as best as you can. Theyll have all the forms you need to get signed up for both Parts of Medicare.
Now the next step is that
Changing Medicare Advantage Plans Or Part D Plans Outside Of Open Enrollment
Many Medicare beneficiaries enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.
During this period , you can make a number of coverage changes:
- You can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, whether or not either plan includes prescription drug coverage.
- You can disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to Original Medicare .
- If you switch back to Original Medicare during this period, you can join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
If you dont enroll in a Medicare plan during this annual period, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
There are many ways to qualify for a Medicare Advantage Special Enrollment Period or a Medicare Part D Special Enrollment Period.
Some of the situations that may qualify you for one of these types of Special Enrollment Periods include:
The above list does not necessarily include every and all qualifications for a Special Enrollment Period.
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If Your Employer Is Small
If you have health insurance through a company with fewer than 20 employees, you should sign up for Medicare at 65 regardless of whether you stay on the employer plan. If you do choose to remain on it, Medicare is your primary insurance.
However, it may be more cost-effective in this situation to drop the employer coverage and pick up Medigap and a Part D plan or, alternatively, an Advantage Plan instead of keeping the work plan as secondary insurance.
Often, workers at small companies pay more in premiums than employees at larger firms.
The average premium for single coverage through employer-sponsored health insurance is $7,470, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, employees contribute an average of $1,243 or about 17% with their company covering the remainder.
At small firms, the employee’s share might be far higher. For example, 28% are in a plan that requires them to contribute more than half of the premium for family coverage, compared with 4% of covered workers at large firms.
When Do I Have To Sign Up For Medicare
If youre collecting Social Security, youll automatically be enrolled in both Part A and Part B. If youre not receiving Social Security, then youll want to sign up manually during your Initial Enrollment Period.
Three months before your 65th birthday, your Initial Enrollment Period window will start. Your IEP is a once-in-a-lifetime enrollment window that you dont want to miss.
If you do happen to miss it, youll have another opportunity to enroll during another enrollment period. However, you could get a penalty for not signing up when you first become eligible. The only way around the penalty is if you have creditable coverage.
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Signing Up For Medicare
If you’re collecting Social Security benefits. If you claim Social Security benefits at age 65 or earlier, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65, in both Part A and Part B. You can disenroll from Part B but not from Part A.
To enroll in Part B after age 65 later , you can fill out an Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part B and bring it or mail it to a Social Security office.
If you’re not collecting Social Security benefits. If you are 64 years and nine months or older and you have not started collecting Social Security benefits, you can sign up for both Part A and Part B online at .
How Medicare enrollment affects HSAs. Note that, when you’re enrolled in Part A, you are no longer allowed to make pre-tax contributions to your health savings account , though you cancontinue to use the funds already in your HSA account. Since anyone collecting Social Security retirement benefits has to be enrolled in Part A, this means that no one collecting Social Security can contribute to an HSA.
For 2018 premiums and deductibles, see Nolo’s 2018 Medicare cost update.
When To Enroll In Medicare
3 months before you turn 65
You can start enrolling in Medicare 3 months before your 65th birthday. Youll need to be eligible for Part A and Part B before you can get Part C . Youll need Part A, Part B, or both before you can get Part D.
Not sure what services each part covers? Learn the basics of Medicare.
Step 1 Learn about your Medicare benefits
As soon as possible, visit SocialSecurity.gov or call Social Security at , 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to learn about your Part A and Part B benefits. The answers to these questions will help you enroll.
- Will I get Part A at no cost? Typically, you can get Part A at no cost if you or your spouse paid into Medicare for at least 10 years. If not, you can buy it.
- Do I need to enroll in Part A and Part B? Find out if youll be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B, or if you should sign up.
- How will Social Security bill me for my Medicare premiums? The monthly premium is automatically deducted from your Social Security check each month. If youre not collecting Social Security, youll get a bill from the federal government every 3 months.
- When will I get my Medicare card? The federal government will mail your red, white, and blue Medicare card after youre enrolled. You should get it 3 months before your 65th birthday if you’re automatically enrolled. If you need to enroll in Part A and Part B, it can take up to 2 months to get your Medicare card.
Step 2 Enroll in Part A and Part B
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During Your Initial Enrollment Period
This lasts for seven months, of which the fourth one is the month in which you turn 65. For example, if your 65th birthday is in June, your IEP begins March 1 and ends Sept. 30.
To avoid late penalties and delayed coverage, you need to sign up for Medicare during your IEP in these circumstances:
- You have no other health insurance
- You have health insurance that you bought yourself
- You have retiree benefits from a former employer
- You have COBRA coverage that extends the insurance you or your spouse received from an employer while working
- You have veterans benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs health system
- Youre in a nonmarital domestic relationship with someone of the same or opposite sex and you are covered by his or her employer insurance
If you enroll during the first three months of your IEP, your Medicare coverage begins on the first day of the month you turn 65 . If you sign up during the fourth month, coverage begins on the first day of the following month. But if you leave it until the fifth, sixth or seventh month, coverage will be delayed by two or three months. For example, if your birthday is in June and you sign up in September , coverage will not begin until Dec. 1.
How To Apply For Medicare Through The Rrb
If you worked for the railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 877-772-5772 or submit an online service request through the RRB website.
The best time to apply is during the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. Or, you can sign up during the Medicare General Enrollment Period.
Note: If you are still working, you can still sign up for RRB Medicare coverage when you turn 65. No need to retire.
If you, or a family member, are already receiving a railroad retirement annuity, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. Coverage begins when you turn 65.
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Enrolling When Youre Indigenous
If you dont have standard identity documents, you can use a referee instead. You and your referee need to fill in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medicare enrolment and amendment form. The form says who can be a referee.
You can take your form to your local agent, access point or service centre.
Call the Indigenous access line if you need help with the form.