Other than eating a balanced diet, working out, avoiding smoking, and use of alcohol, health insurance is vital for everyone. It helps pay for you and your dependent’s medical costs. Without insurance, you may pay hundreds of dollars for full medical care.

How To Join Medicare: Your Comprehensive Guide

Most health insurance policies offer a list of participating specialists, facilities, and health care practitioners. With such a vast network, you can choose a provider that offers lower costs than one not listed in such a network.

Having an insurance plan encourages regular doctor checks and preventive care. Any health issues are therefore identified early and you can seek treatment before they become serious.

Medicare is one of the health insurance programs offered by the federal government. In this discussion, we’ll walk you through how to sign up for Medicare and any critical information you need to know.

What Is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance plan for seniors above 60 years old, people in the final stages of kidney disease, and younger people living with disabilities.

Some U.S.citizens are automatically signed up for the Original Medicare without filling out forms or answering any questions. Others must sign up to enroll in any Medicare program.

You can sign up for the Original Medicare online by accessing the Social Security website using your computer or phone. Alternatively, you can visit the nearest Social Security office and enroll in person. Keep in mind the signup period is at least three months before or after your 65th birthday.

Additionally, the enrollment period is from October 15th to December 7th. You can also use the opportunity to make changes to your existing coverage.

Enrolling in Medicare Plans

First, it’s important to note that Medicare has three parts, and signing up for each is a different task. Enrollment periods for each of these parts vary as well.

If you are signing up for the first time, note that delays in signing up can incur fees and penalties. It is advisable to set notifications or alerts on your calendar to remind you of the date.

Enrolling For Original Medicare Part A and B

To sign up:

  • Complete an application form on the Social Security website. Enrollment is usually automatic, but if for some reason it isn’t, apply three months before or after your 65th birthday. You’ll be charged a 10% fee on your monthly premium if you delay.

  • You can also enroll by calling the Social Security office from Monday through Friday.

  • Thirdly, visit the Social Security office in your state and fill out the forms in person.

What Additional Options Are Available After Enrolling in Original Medicare

After enrollment, you can bump up your coverage by:

  • Adding a Medigap supplement coverage. This fills the gap that the Original Medicare fails to cover. However, this excludes optical, long-term care, or hearing aids.

  • Adding Part D: prescription drug plan.

Note that switching to Medicare Advantage or what is popularly known as Part C replaces your Original Medicare.

Enrolling in Medicare Advantage Plans or Medicare Part C

You can sign up by:

  • Calling Medicare office

  • Filling out an online application form. You can use the Medicare plan find to locate it.

  • Contact them online or by calling.

Enrolling for Supplement Plans or Medigap

To enroll for Medigap, you must have Medicare Part A and B. Medigap is not compulsory, however, it helps you pay coinsurance, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses.

You can enroll for Medigap anytime after joining Medicare. Just keep in mind there’s a six-month signing-up period after you hit 65 years and have signed up for Medicare Part B. If you delay, private insurance may refuse to sell you health insurance if your health is poor.

To enroll:

  • Use an online tool on the Medicare platform and locate a Medigap policy.

  • Contact your nearest State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to help you enroll.

With supplement insurance, enrollment is six months after your 65th birthday month, and after enrolling for Medicare Part D. There are no fees for late application.

Enrolling for Medicare Part D ( Prescription Drugs)

To enroll:

  • Call the Medicare office

  • Enroll online by locating the Medicare plan finder.

  • Contact your insurance provider that provides Part D.

Worth noting is that the enrollment for Part D takes place between October 7th through December 7th every year. The late application fees depend on how long you didn’t have Part D.

Automatic Enrolment

As noted, you can be automatically enrolled for Medicare Part A and B medical insurance.

Here are the grounds for automatic enrollment:

  • You receive your retirement benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board for at least four months before you turn 65 years.

  • You are below 65 years but have received retirement benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board for at least twelve months.

If you are collecting your benefits from Social Security, no action is needed on your side. Your coverage commences on your 65th birthday.

Even so, you can decide on other policies to boost your Medicare, such as Medicare Part B drug plan, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Advantage.

Online Enrollment

Enrolling online will not take a lot of your time; however, you’ll need to provide your health insurance data regardless of whether you’re receiving Medicare benefits. You’ll be asked for additional information if you’re a non-citizen or using your spouse’s work record.

Furthermore, you’ll need additional information if you are over 65 years old and you’re changing from your previous employer’s insurance coverage.

After enrollment, your Medicard is sent in your mail alongside a welcome kit.

Can You Delay Enrolling For Part B? Are There Charges?

You can join Part A upon reaching 65 years of age; however, some people may delay enrolling for Part B. If you or your spouse’s employer offers health insurance, you can delay enrolling in Part B. However, if your policy ends or you stop working, you must join Medicare Part B within eight months. Failure to do so can incur penalties.

After your coverage ends, you can apply online via the Social Security website or fill in a manual form and submit by mail.

To sign up for Medicare B by mail:

  • Download the CMS 40B Form for Part B enrollment and print it out.

  • Provide proof of employment

  • Download CMS L564 Form for requesting employer information. Print out the form.

  • Ask your Human Resources to fill out the CMS L564 form.

  • Send both forms to your state’s Social Security office. Alternatively, you can fax them.

Creating an Online Account

After enrollment, you can create an online account on the MyMedicare.gov portal that you can use to manage your health insurance coverage and other actions such as:

  • Confirm your enrollment status

  • Confirm details about the Medicare plan you’re in.

  • Update personal data

  • Enter health information, prescription drugs, and records

  • View available claims

  • Download replacement cards

  • Share your information with providers.

Conclusion

As you can see, signing up for medicare doesn’t have to be complicated. You can sign up for Medicare through the Social Security website. You can also visit your local office for enrollment. If you have any concerns, you can contact the office by calling the landline. The contact information is available publicly on the CMS.gov website.