You don’t have to apply and sign-up for Medicare if you receive benefits from the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). However, when your 65th birthday approaches, you’ll automatically enroll in Medicare Parts A and B.
Then 3 to 4 months before your birthday, you will receive your Medicare card and enrollment information. However, you can enroll in Part D during your initial enrollment period or switch to Medicare Advantage (Part C). Later, we’ll go over that in more detail.
If you are not automatically enrolled, you must apply for original Medicare (Parts A and B) and any additional coverage. Several factors determine the length of your enrolment period. These factors include your employment status and the types of coverage you desire.
How to sign up for Medicare Part A & B (Original Medicare)
Before you start the enrollment process for Medicare Parts A and B, think about what kind of coverage you’ll need in the long run. You can prepare by following these steps:
- Determine whether you were automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Part A or Part B.
- Choose whether you want to enroll in Part B or postpone it.
- Examine the Medicare Advantage plans available in your area to see if they provide better coverage and lower costs than original Medicare.
- Consider your Part D options and whether a Medigap plan would benefit you if you choose to stick with original Medicare.
A Medicare application checklist is available from the Social Security Administration. It includes a list of the paperwork you’ll need, such as proof of military service, tax forms, and W-2s. You can begin the sign-up process once you have all the necessary information.
One can apply Original Medicare in a variety of ways:
- Online: To begin the enrollment process, go to SocialSecurity.gov.
- By phone: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m., call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 (or 800-325-0718 for TTY). From 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
- In-Person: Visit an SSA office near you; the SSA office locator can help you find one.
- By mail: You can enroll by writing to your local SSA office with your name, Social Security number, and desired enrollment date. They will send you any additional enrollment requests as well as the necessary information.
You will automatically enroll in Medicare if you already receive SSA or RRB benefits. RRB can be reached at 877-772-5772 (or 312-751-4701 for TTY) Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. if you have any questions or would like to discuss your coverage, call between 9:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
How to Sign-up for Medicare Part C (Medicare advantage)
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a bundled health insurance plan that a private company offers. It covers the same ground as parts A and B together. In many cases, it also covers prescriptions. Some Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for vision, dental, and other medical expenses.
This plan may limit your annual out-of-pocket expenses. However, this can be beneficial if you expect to incur high medical costs.
On the other hand, a Medicare Advantage plan will be an extra cost on top of any additional Medicare premiums you pay. Many Medicare Advantage plans will cover all or part of your Part B premiums. When deciding which parts of Medicare are right for you, weigh your healthcare needs against coverage costs.
During your initial enrollment period, you can enroll in Medicare Advantage. Then during Medicare’s open enrollment period, you can also make changes to your choices. This period runs from October 15 to December 7. However, if you enroll outside of these times, you may be charged a late fee, and your coverage will not begin until July 1.
There are two options to apply and sign-up for Medicare Part C:
- Online: Use Medicare.gov‘s plan finder tool to look for Part C plans.
- With a private Company: Part C plans are available from insurance companies, and you can enroll directly with them online or over the phone.
How to Sign-up for Medicare Part D
None of us automatically enroll in Medicare Part D. You’ll need to apply and sign-up for a Medicare Part D plan if you want prescription drug coverage.
It’s worth noting that a Part D plan is only available as an add-on to standard Medicare (parts A and B). A Part D plan is not open to people who have Medicare Advantage (Part C).
You can enroll in Medicare Part D during your initial enrollment period, a seven-month window around your 65th birthday. You can sign up later if you don’t enroll during that time, but you may have to pay a late enrollment fee.
During the open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7, you may also be able to enroll.
There are various options for enrolling in Medicare Part D:
- By Phone: Call 800-633-4227 if you have any questions (or 877-486-2048 for TTY).
- Online: Compare Part D plans available in your area using the Medicare.gov plan finding tool.
- Speak with a private insurer: You can enroll directly with private insurers that offer Part D plans by contacting them via their website or phone.
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