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Enrolling in Medicare

You'll be automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65 if you're already receiving Social Security benefits, or when you apply for Social Security benefits at age 65. 

In either case, the Social Security Administration will notify you that you're being enrolled. Although there's no cost to enroll in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), you'll pay a premium to enroll in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). If you've been automatically enrolled in Part B, you'll be notified that you have a certain amount of time after your enrollment date to decline coverage. Even if you decide not to enroll in Medicare Part B during the initial enrollment period, you can enroll later during the annual general enrollment period that runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. However, you may pay a slightly higher premium as a result.

If you decide to postpone applying for Social Security past your 65th birthday, you can still enroll in Medicare when you turn 65. The Social Security Administration suggests that you call (800) 772-1213 three months before you turn 65 to discuss your options. You can apply by visiting your local Social Security office. If you are unable to visit your local office, you may be able to enroll over the phone.

Getting started with Medicare

If you're new to Medicare, here are 4 steps to get you started:

Step 1: Sign up for Medicare

  • If you don’t already have Medicare, find out if you’re eligible. You’ll get an estimate of these: 
    • When you’re eligible for Medicare
    • Whether you’ll get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically or if you need to sign up
    • Your premium amounts
  • Learn about the different parts of Medicare, like Part A and Part B, and the specific services they cover.
  • Decide whether you want Part B.
  • If you don't get Medicare automatically, apply for Medicare online.

Step 2: Choose your coverage

  • There are 2 main ways to get your Medicare coverage— Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO). Some people get additional coverage, like Medicare prescription drug coverage or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). Learn about these coverage choices and 3 steps to help you decide how to get your coverage.
  • If you have other health insurance, you can learn how Medicare works with other insurance. If you’re retired and have coverage from a former employer, there are 5 things to know about retiree coverage.

Step 3: Fill out an "Initial Enrollment Questionnaire" (IEQ) 

About 3 months before your Medicare coverage starts, you’ll get an IEQ in the mail. It asks about other health insurance you have that might pay before Medicare does. Fill out the IEQ so your bills are paid correctly and on time. You can also complete the IEQ online at MyMedicare.gov.

Step 4: Learn about 5 things to do in your first year with Medicare

  1. Fill out an Authorization Form if you want your family or friends to call Medicare on your behalf. Medicare can't give personal health information about you to anyone unless you give permission in writing first.
  2. Make a "Welcome to Medicare" Preventive Visit appointment during the first 12 months you have Medicare. This free, one-time comprehensive "Welcome to Medicare" preventive visit puts you in control of your health and your Medicare from the start.
  3. Sign up for MyMedicare.gov, our secure online service where you can access your personal Medicare information 24 hours a day, every day. You can:
    • Complete your IEQ
    • Track your health care claims
    • View your "Medicare Summary Notices" (MSNs)
    • Order a replacement Medicare card
    • Check your Medicare Part B deductible status
    • View your eligibility information
    • Track your preventive services
    • Find information about your Medicare health plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), or search for a new one
    • Keep your Medicare information in one convenient place
  4. Learn what Medicare covers. You’ll get a list of tests, items, and services that are covered no matter where you live. If your test, item, or service isn’t listed, talk to your doctor or other health care provider about why you need certain tests, items, or services, and ask if Medicare will cover them.
  5. Decide if you want to go paperless, and get your next free copy of “Medicare & You” electronically! Next October, you’ll get an email from Medicare linking you to “Medicare & You” online instead of a paper copy in your mailbox.

Copyright 2006-2015 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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