When you reach the age of 65 or have been disabled and receiving Social Security benefits for 24 months, you may become eligible for Medicare insurance. This insurance provides good coverage for both inpatient and outpatient healthcare services. After enrolling in Medicare, you will receive your Medicare identification card so that you can use it to receive healthcare coverage at a variety of different facilities across the United States.
Applying for Medicare
Since Medicare is a government-run entity, applications for insurance coverage are handled by the Social Security Administration. Original Medicare encompasses both Part A and Part B. At the time you apply for Original Medicare, you also have the ability to sign up for Medicare Part D coverage, which covers prescription drugs. However, Part D is provided through private insurers.
It is important to note that even though the application is processed through Social Security, it is not the same application for Social Security income benefits. As soon as you turn 65, you are eligible for Medicare benefits. Unlike Social Security benefits, Medicare eligibility is not dependent on retirement.
However, if you are already receiving Social Security benefits at the age of 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare. It is important to note that even if you are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B, you still must apply to Part D separately if you are planning to. If you do not enroll in prescription drug coverage when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you decide to enroll later on.
The Initial Enrollment Period
You are able to begin applying for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. This date marks the beginning of your Initial Enrollment Period. This period lasts for a total of seven months, and you must apply for Medicare coverage during this period to avoid having to pay late enrollment penalties. The seven months encompass the three months prior to your birthday, your birth month, and the three months following your birth month.
You are able to apply for Medicare in a few different ways. If you prefer to apply in person, you can do so at your local Social Security office. Additionally, you can apply on the phone by calling the Social Security office or by using the online application on the Social Security website.
If you are planning to use Medicare as primary insurance, which is common for those who are retired and do not have insurance through their or their spouse’s employment, you should be sure to apply for Medicare as early in the Initial Enrollment Period as possible. This will ensure that you can receive coverage as soon as you are eligible.
You are eligible to begin receiving Medicare coverage at the beginning of the month you turn 65. In addition, coverage generally starts the month after you apply. Because of this, applying prior to your birthday allows you to maximize your coverage window.
If you do not apply for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, you will be subject to additional fees. For Part B, you will be forced to pay an extra 10 percent late enrollment fee for every 12-month period that you were not enrolled in Medicare.
If you are still employed and receiving healthcare benefits through work, it is important to consider how many total employees your company has. If there are less than 20 employees receiving health coverage, you will need to apply for Medicare coverage as it will serve as your primary insurance with your employee coverage being secondary. For those working for companies with over 20 employees, you can enroll for Medicare at the normal time or choose to delay your enrollment to avoid paying for multiple healthcare plans.
Receiving Your Medicare Card
After you apply for Medicare insurance and are accepted into the program, you will generally receive your Medicare card within about three weeks. If you are already receiving Social Security and are automatically enrolled, you should receive your Medicare card about two months prior to your 65th birthday.
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