How to Enroll in Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare is a major milestone in your life.

Before you get started choosing which path in the program you want to take, you need to know these 5 important facts.

  1. Some people get Medicare automatically, and some have to sign up. You may have to sign up if you’re 65 (or almost 65) and not getting Social Security.
  2. There are certain times of the year when you can sign up or change how you get your coverage.
  3. If you sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you can avoid a penalty.
  4. You can choose how you get your Medicare coverage.
  5. You may be able to get help with your Medicare costs.

When you are ready to enroll in Medicare, you can call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or visit them online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

You can also go to www.medicare.gov and use the Medicare eligibility tool to find out if you are eligible and what you need to do to enroll if you are.

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Railroad Retirement Board

If you already get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you are automatically entitled to Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) starting the first day of the month you reach age 65.

You will not need to do anything to enroll.

Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about 3 months before your 65th birthday.

Social Security Disability Benefits

If you are under age 65 and disabled, and have been entitled to disability benefits under Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months, you will be automatically entitled to Medicare Part A and Part B beginning the 25th month of disability benefit entitlement.

You will not need to do anything to enroll in Medicare. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about 3 months before your Medicare entitlement date.

If you’re already collecting Social Security benefits, you’ll get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically when you’re first eligible and don’t need to sign up.

Medicare will send you a “Welcome to Medicare” packet 3 months before you turn 65.

You’ll still have other important deadlines and actions to take, so read all of the materials in the packet.

Medicare Enrollment Period

Generally speaking, if you have to pay for Parts A and B of Medicare and fail to sign up for them as soon as you are able, then you’ll probably be penalized for it and your enrollment may be delayed.

When you first become eligible for Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or Medicare drug plan.

There are specific times when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or a Medicare drug plan or make changes to coverage you already have.

General enrollment period – If you have Part A coverage and you get Part B for the first time during this period, you can also join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan.

Your coverage may not start until July 1.

Open enrollment period – From October 15 – December 7 you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan.

Your coverage will begin on January 1 (as long as the plan gets your request by December 7).

How to Enroll in Medicare FAQs

Medicare is a publicly-available health insurance program run by the U.S. government.
Medicare provides health coverage to those who are 65+ (or if you have a disability, regardless of age). Medicaid by contrast is available for those with very low income.
Typically, everyone who is 65 or older, or suffers from a disability is eligible for Medicare.
Medicare Part A is free for most people. For those who don’t meet the criteria for free Medicare Part A, the cost is $458 per month if you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters over the course of your working career.