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How to Sign Up for Medicare

Probably one of the most common questions we receive at McGrath Insurance Group is about how to enroll in or sign up for Medicare. The answer isn’t as straightforward as some would like it to be. Let’s break it down to help you navigate this type of coverage.

Understanding the Medicare Plans

To sign up for Medicare requires that you enroll during a specific period. Missing that period could cost you penalties or fees. It’s important for you to know when you will need to sign up to mark your calendar for these important dates.

  • Original Medicare Part A and B: Enrollment periods are automatic or are three months before the month you turn 65 and three months after you turn 65. If you miss, you’re charged 10% of the monthly premium.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans: Enrollment happens from October 15 to December 7.
  • Supplement Insurance (Medigap): Six months after the month you turn 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
  • Prescription Drugs (Part D): Enrollment happens from October 15 to December 7.

As you can see, there are many dates to track and timetables to understand when it comes to getting signed up for Medicare. To help you navigate this process a little better, here is our recommended three-step process.

Decide if You Need to Sign Up for Medicare

There are many people who are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B coverages. You will know if you’re one of these people, because:

  • You’ll receive Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least four months prior to turning 65.
  • You are under the age of 65 and have received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least 2 years.

If you’ve received these benefits, you can anticipate that you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B without needing to do a thing. That coverage will begin on your 65th birthday. In addition, you may also decide if you want to sign up for Medicare Part D, buy Medigap supplemental insurance, or switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Are you confused about which coverages you need? Reach out to McGrath Insurance Group here to discuss your personal options.

Signing Up for Medicare Part A or Part B

If you’re not automatically enrolled, you may still sign up for Medicare in a few ways. It’s important to note that in some of these places, Medicare Part A and Part B are also referred to as Original Medicare. Try not to let that confuse you as you’re getting signed up.

Here are the ways to sign up for Medicare if you haven’t been automatically enrolled.

  1. Fill out an application on the Social Security Administration’s website.
  2. Call the Social Security Administration offices at 1-800-772-1213.

Ideally, you’ll sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period. That period, as stated above, starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday, including your birth month, and extends for three months after your 65th birthday. It’s a seven-month period.

The Medicare Sign Up Process

The process of signing up for Medicare is fairly straightforward once you’ve started.

First, you’ll be asked to create a Social Security Account. You may already have one. If you do have this account log in to My Social Security and you’ll be able to access it there.

Then, visit the Social Security Administration’s Apply for Benefits page. Click the “New Application” button and follow the instructions.

During the process, you’ll need to share personal information, such as your citizenship status, whether you have health insurance currently, whether you’re applying under your spouse’s work record, and whether you’re transitioning from an employer’s health coverage after you’ve turned 65.

Once complete, you can expect to receive a packet in the mail with the information you need, including a helpful handbook that details your new coverage.

Adding Other Medicare Coverage Options To Your Original Medicare

Once registered, you must decide if you want to stick with your Original Medicare, or add on supplemental coverages. You have several options for getting additional coverage, including supplement insurance policies, Part D prescription drug plans, and Medicare Advantage plans, or Part C, which replaces your Original Medicare coverage.

How Do I Sign Up For Medicare Outside of My Enrollment Period?

Sometimes, you miss the enrollment deadline for Medicare. Other times, you decide outside of that enrollment period, that you want to add on more coverage. In either case, there are certain time periods each year where you’re able to enroll beyond that initial enrollment period.

  • Medicare Open Enrollment happens each year from October 15 to December 7. This is when you can make changes to your plan.
  • Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment lets you change or drop your plan each year between January 1 and March 31.
  • Medicare General Enrollment outside of when you were initially eligible to enroll, happens each year from January 1 to March 31. Signing up during this time frame means your coverage will start on July 1.
  • Medicare Special Enrollment Period. There are over 20 special qualifying circumstances that will allow you to make changes to your Medicare coverage. These can happen in a special enrollment period if you’re qualified.

The Final Step: Sign Up for a Account

Once you have Medicare, it’s a good idea to also create a account to manage your coverages. This account lets you check your enrollment status, gives you details about your plans, and lets you update or enter personal health information. It’s also here that you can request replacement cards if you lost your Medicare card.

We’re Here to Help

It should be easy to sign up for Medicare, yet often it’s confusing and overwhelming. We’re here to guide you through the process and help you get the coverage you need moving into this new season of life. Contact us to get started enrolling in Medicare in Camdenton, so you can be sure you have the health care you need when you need it.