How To Sign Up For Medicare Heres What You Need To Know
You can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B in the following ways:
- Online at www.SocialSecurity.gov.
- In person at your local Social Security office.
If you worked at a railroad, enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 . You can call Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM, to speak to an RRB representative.
When Can I Enroll In Medicare If I Am Not Receiving Retirement Benefits
If you are not yet receiving retirement benefits and are close to turning 65, you can sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B during your IEP. If you decide to delay your Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Benefits beyond age 65, there is an option to enroll in just Medicare and apply for retirement benefits at a later time.
Medicare Part C Combining Your Coverage
Medicare Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage. Its made up of plans approved by Medicare that are offered through private insurance companies. Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, youll need to sign up for both Part A and Part B. You can then choose a Medicare Advantage plan thats right for you. This means that to get a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to sign up directly with the private insurer that offers the plan you want. But you can only sign up after youve enrolled in Parts A and B.
- What Medicare Part C covers: All Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, plans cover everything Original Medicare covers. But Medicare Advantage plans can also cover more. Examples of additional benefits include:
- Dental, vision or hearing services
- Prescription drug coverage
- Fitness club memberships
- What Medicare Part C costs: Once you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you continue to pay a monthly Part B premium to Medicare. In some cases, you may also pay an additional premium to the insurance company that provides your Part C plan. The amount of the premium varies among Medicare Advantage plans. You may also have other out-of-pocket costs, including copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Medicare Advantage puts a limit on the amount you pay for your covered medical care in a given year. This limit is known as an out-of-pocket maximum. Original Medicare does not have this feature.
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How To Sign Up For Medicare Advantage: When Can I Enroll
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is another way to receive Original Medicare benefits and is offered through private insurance companies that have contracts with Medicare. At minimum, all Medicare Advantage plans must offer the same Medicare Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare. Some Medicare Advantage plans also include additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. You must have Original Medicare, Part A and B, to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan through a private insurer.
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during two enrollment periods, the Initial Coverage Election Period and Annual Election Period.
When Does It Pay To Enroll In Medicare Before Social Security
You might assume that it pays to sign up for Social Security prior to Medicare, but in many cases, it actually pays to enroll in Medicare first.
Unless youre disabled, you wont be able to enroll in Medicare prior to age 65. And unless youre continuing to work and receive employer-sponsored coverage, theres no benefit to delaying your Medicare enrollment more than three months after you turn 65.
So in almost all cases, your Medicare enrollment window will correspond closely with your 65th birthday, and the coverage you receive under the program wont vary based on when you enroll. But the age at which you sign up for Social Security will dictate what your monthly benefits under Social Security amount to.
Your Social Security benefits are calculated with a formula that uses your average inflation-adjusted monthly wage over your 35 highest-paid years in the workforce. Your resulting monthly benefit will be available to you in full once you reach whats known as full retirement age. That age is currently between 66 and 67, depending on your year of birth.
If you file for Social Security prior to full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced for each month you claim them early. You can also delay your Social Security benefits past full retirement age and boost them by 8% a year in the process, up until age 70, which is generally considered the latest age to claim Social Security.
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Should You Sign Up For Medicare If Youre 65 And Still Working
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If youre 65 or older, still working and are covered by employer health insurance, it can make sense to sign up for Medicare now. Enrollment might reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
Millions find themselves in this situation. The proportion of Americans ages 65 to 74 who are working is projected to reach 30.2% in 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But Medicare is complicated, and there are a lot of caveats and some surprise expenses to be avoided. So for working people 65 or older, heres help with figuring out when to enroll in Medicare and how to avoid costly late-enrollment penalties and gaps in coverage.
A note for married couples where one spouse is covered by the others employer insurance: The information provided here also applies to you when you turn 65.
When Is My Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
For most people, enrolling in Medicare Part A is automatic. However, there are several instances where you may have to manually enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period , the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your 65th birthday, and ends three months later.
Some situations where you would enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment include:
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When To Enroll In Medicare If I Dont Want Medicare Part B
If youâre automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B, but do not wish to keep it you have a few options to drop the coverage. If your Medicare coverage hasnât started yet and you were sent a red, white, and blue Medicare card, you can follow the instructions that come with your card and send the card back. If you keep the Medicare card, you keep Part B and will need to pay Part B premiums. If you signed up for Medicare through Social Security, then you will need to contact them to drop Part B coverage. If your Medicare coverage has started and you want to drop Part B, contact Social Security for instructions on how to submit a signed request. Your coverage will end the first day of the month after Social Security gets your request.
If you have health coverage through current employment , you may decide to delay Medicare Part B enrollment. You should speak with your employerâs health benefits administrator so that you understand how your current coverage works with Medicare and what the consequences would be if you drop Medicare Part B.
Medicare Enrollment: How And When To Sign Up For Medicare
Sign up for Medicare when you turn 65 or if you qualify based on your disability.
What you should know
|1. Medicare enrollment begins around 65 for most Americans.||2. Most people qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, which covers hospital and skilled nursing facility care, hospice, and some home health care.|
|3. If you dont qualify for automatic Medicare enrollment, youll need to sign up during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period .||4. If you dont sign up during your IEP, you can enroll during the annual general enrollment period, which lasts from January 1 through March 31 of each year.|
Your 65th birthday marks the date when, after decades of working and paying into the Medicare system through taxes, the system finally starts paying you back with government health insurance.
Enrolling in Medicare is vitally important for all Americans, and its just as important to do it in the right way, at the right time, says Bryan W. Adams, cofounder and CEO of Integrity Marketing Group. Given that health care expenses tend to rise as you age, taking full advantage of the Medicare coverage and benefits youve earned can play a crucial role in protecting your health and savings.
Heres what you need to know about how and when to sign up for Medicare.
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Medicare Enrollment Periods: When To Sign Up
When to join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
Its important for you to know when to sign up for Medicare or when to join a Medicare plan. Remember these times so you get the most out of your Medicare and avoid late enrollment penalties:
- Initial Medicare Enrollment Period: Most people get Medicare Part A and Part B during this period. It starts 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after you turn 65. If youre not already collecting Social Security benefits before your Initial Enrollment Period starts, youll need to sign up for Medicare online or contact Social Security.To get the most from your Medicare and avoid the Part B late enrollment penalty, complete your Medicare enrollment application during your Initial Enrollment Period. This lifetime penalty gets added to your monthly Part B premium, and it goes up the longer you wait to sign up. Find out if you should get Part B based on your situation.
- General Medicare Enrollment Period: If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up during Medicares General Enrollment Period , and your coverage will start July 1.
- Special Enrollment Period: Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you may have the chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period . You can sign up for Part A and or Part B during an SEP if you have special circumstances.
When to join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
Special Enrollment Period For Parts A And B
Some people with health care coverage through their job or union, or through their spouse’s job or union, wait to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B . If you or your spouse are actively working for an employer with more than 20 employees when you turn 65, you can get a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Parts A and/or B:
- Any time you’re still covered by the employer or union group health plan through you or your spouses current employment or
- During the eight months following the month the employer or union group health plan coverage ends, or when the employment ends .
If you delay enrolling even longer, you may have to wait for coverage and you may pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty surcharge on your Medicare premiums.
If you’re under age 65, and eligible for Medicare because you’re disabled and working , the SEP rules also apply to you as long as the employer has more than 100 employees.
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Signing Up For Medicare Part D
Signing up for Medicare Part D is simple. Once you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, you can enroll in Medicare Part D.
Like other parts of Medicare, unless you have creditable coverage, it is best to enroll during your initial enrollment period to avoid future penalties. To enroll, you must apply through Medicare and choose to enroll in any plan in your service area.
Signing Up For Medicare Online Step
Signing up for Medicare online through the Social Security Administration is the fastest way to apply.
Enrollment takes less than 10 minutes online, according to the Social Security Administration.
How to Apply for Medicare Online
You will be asked to provide your current health insurance information or, if you receive Medicaid benefits, your Medicaid number.
You may be required to provide additional documentation if you are:
- Not a U.S. citizen
- Applying under your spouses work record
- Over age 65 and transitioning from your employers health coverage
After youre enrolled, CMS will send you a welcome packet in the mail along with your Medicare card.
If you sign up for Medicare on your own, the packet should arrive about two weeks after you sign up.
You will also receive a Medicare & You handbook, which includes important information about your coverage.
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How Does Medicare Work With My Job
Keep in mind that:
- Most people qualify to get Part A without paying a monthly premium. If you qualify, you can sign up for Part A coverage starting 3 months before you turn 65 and any time after you turn 65 Part A coverage starts up to 6 months back from when you sign up or apply to get benefits from Social Security .
- If you have a Health Savings Account, you and your employer should stop contributing to it 6 months before you sign up for Part A to avoid a tax penalty.
When Is The Medicare Advantage Plan Annual Election Period
You can also add, drop, or change your Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Election Period , which occurs from October 15 to December 7 of every year. During this period, you may:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, and vice versa.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that covers prescription drugs, and vice versa.
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Can I Sign Up For Medicare Plans Online
Enrolling in Medicare coverage options online is generally easy and quick. More and more people are signing up online, according to an eHealth study. During 2018, about 16% of people in the study enrolled in Medicare coverage options online. Thatâs up from only 10% in 2017. In other words, about 60% more people in the study used eHealthâs online enrollment tool to sign up in 2018 than in 2017.
Itâs interesting to note that online enrollment was even higher during âQ4.â Q4 means the 4th quarter of the year, October through December. Thatâs when Medicareâs Fall Open Enrollment happens for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans. Fall Open Enrollment goes from October 15 â December 7 every year.
Medicare Part A Hospital Coverage
- What Medicare Part A covers: Part A covers expenses associated with hospital care. It includes coverage for services like nursing care and hospital stays. It also covers some hospital-related care that takes place outside a hospital setting. For example, skilled nursing care after you leave the hospital.
- What Medicare Part A costs: You generally wont have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare payroll taxes for 40 quarters or more. But you do need to pay deductibles before Medicare will cover any hospitalization costs.
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Is Medicare Mandatory
Medicare is a federal benefit that you pay for through taxes during your working years. At age 65, or if you have certain disabilities, you become eligible for health coverage through various parts of the Medicare program.
While Medicare isnt necessarily mandatory, it is automatically offered in some situations and may take some effort to opt out of.
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Can I Avoid Penalties
There are some special circumstances in which you can sign up late for Medicare without paying penalties. After the initial enrollment period, you can sign up for optional programs during special enrollment periods.
If you or your spouse continued working past your 65th birthday and had health insurance through your employer, you wont have to pay a penalty for late enrollment in any of the Medicare programs.
Beginning the month after you end your employment, or when your group health plan insurance from that employment ends, you have an 8-month window to sign up for Medicare parts A and B without penalty.
COBRA and retiree health plans are not considered as coverage under current employment and do not qualify you for a special enrollment period or save you from late enrollment penalties.
You can also qualify for a special enrollment period for Medicare parts A and B and avoid late enrollment penalties if you were volunteering in a foreign country during your initial enrollment period.