Signing up for Medicare may seem confusing at first, but once you understand the basics, the process is relatively simple. This article will explain the best way to sign up for Medicare. We will also discuss enrollment periods to help you avoid penalties.
How do I get started with Medicare?
You’re eligible for Medicare if you are a US citizen aged 65 (and above) or a permanent resident who has been living in the US continuously for the past five years or more. You’re also eligible for Medicare if you have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months.
The way to get started with Medicare is to sign up for the two ‘parts’ of Medicare, plus additional coverage if you need this
- Original Medicare covers your Hospital (Part A) and Medical (Part B)
It’s important to note that Medicare is not free. Although Medicare covers a significant portion of your healthcare expenses, you still pay some premiums and out-of-pocket costs (for example: deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance).
- A Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan will help cover these out-of-pocket expenses.
- A Medicare Advantage plan, or Medicare Part C, is a bundled alternative to Original Medicare. These plans must at a minimum offer the same benefits as Original Medicare, but many included additional benefits – such as visual, dental, hearing, and Part D drug coverage.
Do you need to sign up for Medicare proactively?
You will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and B if you receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board () benefits when you turn 65.
What is the best way to sign up for Medicare?
But if you are under RRB, call 1-877-772-5772 to sign up. You can also call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?
You will need:
- Your latest health insurance information
- Medicaid number (if applicable)
- Supporting documents if you are not a US citizen or eligible through your spouse
- Proof of employment or group health coverage
Gathering the above documents beforehand will ensure a smooth sign up process.
When is the best time to sign up for Medicare?
If you want to avoid late enrollment penalties, you should typically sign up for Medicare when you turn 65.
The best time to join Original Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).
But, if you missed your IEP and decide to join later (and have not had other creditable coverage), your premiums will be likely be higher the rest of your coverage period.
However, Medicare allows late enrollment in Part B without penalties if you have adequate health coverage from your current job (or your spouse’s job).
Here are other essential tips to enroll for Medicare:
- After losing job-sponsored insurance, you have eight months to enroll and avoid penalties. Use CMS 40B form and CMS L564 when completing your application.
- If you have a low income, try applying for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) and the Low Income Subsidy (LIS).
- The best time to sign up to a Medigap plan is within six months after getting Part B. This period is the “guaranteed issue” period where your coverage is approved regardless of pre-existing conditions.
- There are penalties for delayed enrollment in Part D unless you have acceptable drug coverage.
With Medicare Advantage, there is no penalty for a late signup. However, there are only certain periods during the year when you can sign up for Part C.
What is the best way to sign up for Medicare if you missed the Initial Enrollment Period?
You should enroll during these periods to avoid late enrollment penalties:
- General Enrollment Period (GEP) to join Part A or Part B.
- Annual Election Period (AEP) to join Part D (and Part C).
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to join Part B after health insurance through your employer
What happens after signing up for Medicare?
Now that you know the best way to sign up for Medicare, you should expect the following once you enroll:
- Receive your Medicare card with your full name, ID number, and coverage details
- Receive Medicare documents like your Medicare Summary Notices (MSN) and Explanation of Benefits (EOB)
- Opportunity to create an online account with Medicare to help manage your coverage online
- Medicare benefits like dental, hearing aids, shingles, eye exams, home health care, assisted living, cataract surgery, chiropractors.
You will also start paying Part B premiums and out-of-pocket costs.ause of your medical history. This is called a ‘guaranteed issue’.
It’s important to understand the different methods to sign up for your Medicare coverage. The CoverRight team is here to help you understand these different sign up methods, and ensure you sign up in a timely fashion to avoid late enrollment penalties.