How to Apply for Medicare and When

How to Apply for Medicare and When

You will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B with no premiums if you start receiving Social Security benefits at least four months before you are eligible for Medicare. The time to apply for Medicare is now if you haven't started Social Security but are close to or have just turned 65. Although you'll need to pay attention to certain enrollment deadlines and plan details to ensure you get your benefits set up properly, you can apply online or over the phone. Regardless of the specifics of your unique circumstances, the following instructions will help you determine whether and how to apply for Medicare.

What Are the Topics Covered in Each Part?

While Part B of Medicare covers physician fees and other expenses related to identifying and treating medical issues, Part A of Medicare covers hospital stays and care. Options for additional coverage, such as vision, dental, and wellness care, are available through Medicare Part C, sometimes known as Medicare Advantage. At a minimum, Medicare Part A and Part B are covered by Medicare Advantage (MA) plans (with the exception of hospice care, which would be covered by Part A). Prescription drug coverage is offered by the majority of MA policies. Only those who are currently signed up for both Part A and Part B are eligible to apply for a Medicare Advantage plan. Prescription drugs are covered by Medicare Part D. You probably don't need (and frequently can't have) a separate Part D plan if you have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription medication coverage.

The best time to apply for Medicare is now

You should typically apply for Medicare as soon as you are qualified. You have a seven-month window to apply during the initial enrollment period, which begins three months before the month you reach 65, includes your birth month, and concludes three months after that month. Apply early to avoid a coverage void. If you wait until the month of your 65th birthday (or the three months afterwards) to enroll, your Part B coverage will probably be delayed. If you enroll in Medicare Part B or D after the initial enrollment period (IEP) and are not eligible for a special enrollment period, Medicare may charge you a steep late enrollment penalty (SEP). If you have coverage through a union or your company, including creditable medication coverage, you may be eligible for a SEP. ("Credible" means that your drug coverage is expected to pay as much as a standard Part D plan would). Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap) after IEP is not subject to a late enrollment penalty from Medicare. However, it is preferable to apply for Medigap as soon as you become eligible, since if you do so during the first six months of starting your Part B coverage, you cannot be refused coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition. Depending on whether you currently get Social Security payments, here is how enrollment works.

If you are already a Social Security beneficiary, proceed as follows:

You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare (both Part A and Part B) starting on the first day of the month you turn 65 if you have received Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits for at least four months prior to your 65th birthday. Your Medicare card will arrive in the mail about three months before you turn 65. The address listed on your Social Security record will get it. A package with crucial details about the choices you must make will be sent to you instantly. If you are covered by a non-Medicare health plan through your company or a union, for instance, you may not need to enroll in Part B while being qualified. If you don't enroll in Part B and don't have any other insurance, your premiums will be permanently increased by 10% for each 12-month period during which you might have enrolled in Part B. Spend some time learning about Medicare Part B before deciding if you should enroll. The Medicare Enrollment Booklet, which provides clear, succinct details regarding both Medicare Part A and Part B, is another resource you ought to look into.

If Social Security benefits have not yet been paid to you:

You can enroll in Medicare three months before the month in which you turn 65 if you are not yet collecting Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments, but this enrollment is not automatic. You must either call or apply online. Even if you still have coverage via a group health plan, it is in your best interest to enroll in Medicare Part A as soon as you are eligible, especially if you are qualified for a premium-free plan. Despite being qualified, you might not have to sign up for Part B, which entails paying a monthly premium. Take the time to educate yourself about Medicare Part B before deciding whether or not to enroll. It will cost you more to enroll later if you don't sign up at first and you don't have any other eligible coverage. Beware of the consequences for late enrollment that we already discussed.

When to purchase prescription insurance

If you don't enroll in a Part D drug plan during your initial enrollment period (IEP), when you initially become eligible for Medicare, and you don't have any other creditable drug coverage, you will incur a late enrollment fee that will boost your Part D premium permanently. Even if you had coverage when you first became eligible for Medicare, you will be subject to the late enrollment penalty if you went 63 days or more without having creditable medication coverage. This is why it's typically a good idea to sign up for Part D when you become eligible or to join a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription medication coverage. To be eligible to purchase a Part D plan, you must have either Medicare Part A or Part B. To sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must have both Part A and Part B.

How to Apply for Medicare

Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to register or submit an online application. Here's how it works if you're still employed at age 65. If you are still employed, over the age of 65, and have group health insurance Even if you have employer-provided health insurance, you should sign up for Medicare Part A when you turn 65. Consult your benefits department if you're unsure. Usually, your employer's health plan takes over as the main payer, with Medicare coming in second. Though occasionally, the situation is the opposite. You should apply for Medicare Part A unless your benefits department clearly instructs you differently. Apply for Medicare as soon as possible if you haven't already. During a special enrollment period, you can enroll in Part B if you lose your group insurance (SEP). If you leave your job after you turn 65, this scenario can happen. If you enroll within the special enrollment period, there is often no late enrollment fee. Medicare provides a general enrollment period every year from January 1 to March 31 for those who do not enroll at age 65 and are not qualified for a SEP. If you apply for Medicare now, your benefits will start on July 1st. You can sign up for a Part D prescription medication plan after enrolling in Part A or Part B. You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan if you have both Part A and Part B coverage. If you currently have Medicare Part A and must begin Part B At 65, you may have signed up for Part A but not Part B. This most frequently happens to those who are still employed and have access to a group health plan. After retiring, you must add Part B within eight months of the earliest date that either your work or group health insurance ends, whichever comes first. This choice is regarded as a unique enrollment period.

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