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Enrolling in Medicare

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Enrolling in Medicare

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 2:38 PM

When Can I Enroll?

Most people are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65, but some will need to sign up. When you are first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month initial enrollment period that begins 3 months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after your birthday. If you are under 65 and disabled, you automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months.

How Will I Know I'm Enrolled?

The Social Security Administration will notify you that you're being enrolled.?Although most people get premium-free Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) as long as you qualify based on taxes paid while you worked, you will 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. If you decide not to enroll in Medicare Part B during the initial enrollment period, you may incur a late enrollment penalty if you decide to enroll later on.

If you decide to postpone applying for Social Security past your 65th birthday, you can still enroll in Medicare when you turn 65.

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, review your options, including the parts of Medicare, eligibility requirements, benefits, and costs. ?
  • Find out if you will be automatically enrolled.
  • 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 (Part A and/or Part B)
  • Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) - (options include HMO, PPO, PFFS, MSA plans)

If you are getting Original Medicare, some people find that they need supplemental coverage to help pay for costs Original Medicare does not cover. If you want to purchase a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) policy, you will want to consider enrolling during the initial enrollment period when you have a guaranteed issue right to buy any Medigap plan available in your state. After that period ends, you may be subject to medical underwriting and can be charged more or turned down for a Medigap policy.

Many people also consider adding prescription drug coverage to their insurance, either through a stand alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) if they have Original Medicare, or through a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD).

If you have another health insurance plan learn how Medicare will work with your other coverage. If you're retired and have coverage from a former employer, speak to your employer-based insurance manager for more detailed information.

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: Review the following to-do list for your first year with Medicare

  1. If necessary, fill out an "Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information" form. This form allows a family member, advisor, or caregiver the ability 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" visit puts you in control of your health.
  3. Sign up for MyMedicare.gov, the 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
    • Keep your Medicare information in one convenient place
  4. Learn what your Medicare plan covers, and discuss any concerns you may have with your physician.
  5. Review all of the documents sent from your insurance plan, physicians, and Medicare.

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Last Revised 11/15/2017