When and How Do I Enroll in Medicare?
Written by: Aaron Garcia
Reviewed by: Ed McClane, Licensed Insurance Agent
You can sign up for Medicare online, in-person or through the mail.
To enroll in Medicare Advantage , you must first be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B .
Most people are first eligible to enroll when they turn 65, but you may be able to delay your retirement without penalty.
In many cases, not enrolling when you turn 65 can leave you with enrollment penalties when you do sign up.
Enrolling in Medicare entitles you to a wide range of healthcare benefits. Some of your needs are partially covered by Medicare, while others are available at no cost to you. But you can’t take advantage of these benefits if you’re not enrolled.
If you’re nearing Medicare eligibility, or are eligible but not yet enrolled, you may have some questions about signing up, such as: When do I have to enroll in Medicare ? How do I enroll in Medicare Part B if I’m already signed up for Part A? How is Medicare Advantage enrollment different?
Looking for answers? Here’s when and how to enroll in Medicare.
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Signing Up for Medicare Online
Like most things these days, your Medicare enrollment can be handled online. To do so, you’ll need to sign up for a ” my Social Security” account, which you can use to enroll in Medicare. First, you’ll want to get some basic information together (see below).
How to enroll in Medicare online
Once you’re ready, you can log into your my Social Security account and begin the login process. This can often take 10 to 30 minutes. Can’t finish all at once? You’ll have the option to save your progress and return later. When you’re done, you can track your application’s status through your my Social Security account. You may be contacted by a Medicare official if more information is needed.
Does this information leave you asking, “How do I enroll in Medicare when I turn 65 if I don’t have a computer?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. You can also enroll:
- Over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
- In person at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office.
Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan
If you’re familiar with Medicare, you may know that you have the option of enrolling in Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage (Part C) replaces Original Medicare (Part A and B) but offers the same Part A and B benefits or coverage as Original Medicare. Along with receiving Part A and B benefits, many Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription Drug benefits (Medicare Part D) and additional services like dental, hearing and vision.
If combining several services under one plan is enticing, you may be asking, When am I required to enroll in Medicare Advantage? And how?
The first step is to enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B. Once you’re signed up, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan either immediately or down the line. If you’re already enrolled in Original Medicare and want to switch to Medicare Advantage (Part C), you can do so during the Annual Enrollment Period, held each year from October 15 to December 7.
To enroll in Medicare Advantage, you can look up the Part C plans available in your area, as well as their benefits. You can then compare and contrast the different plans before contacting your company of choice. Another option is to call GoHealth; our licensed insurance agents will research your choices and offer real-world advice and guidance.
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You can enroll between December 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
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Our goal is to enroll you in a plan that is right for you, lowers your cost and gives you the most benefits (like prescriptions, vision, hearing and/or dental) that you are entitled to.
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Most people have seven months to first enroll in Medicare.Your initial enrollment period was between: January 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.
We can check if you qualify for Medicare enrollment even if your initial enrollment period has passed. Contact a GoHealth licensed insurance agent for next steps:
I'm a Few Months Away From 65, When Should I Sign Up for Medicare ?
Medicare eligibility starts at 65 for most beneficiaries, but you’re allowed to enroll months before. Knowing when to do so can help ensure you have coverage when you need it.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
You can sign up for Medicare three months before you turn 65. This is the start of your Initial Enrollment Period, a seven-month window that lasts until three months following the month you turn 65. If you sign up during the three months before your birthday, your coverage starts on the first day of your birthday month. If your birthday is on the first of the month, your coverage will start the first day of the month before.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
An SEP is a special enrollment window that opens when you go through certain life events. During these times you may be able to switch to another Medicare plan, or enroll for the first time. Examples of these events include:
- Moving to a new area.
- Losing your previous group coverage if you’ve delayed enrollment because you or your spouse are still working at 65.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Medicare?
As we’ve explained, there are a few different circumstances that allow you to enroll in Medicare, whether you’re eligible due to age or other reasons. Each of these circumstances often have their own forms to fill out and documentation needed.
As a starting point, here is some of the information you’ll need to provide in order to create a my Social Security account. This is the online portal the Social Security Administration uses to manage Medicare enrollment. After you’ve enrolled, this will be one of the ways you can manage your Medicare account, from requesting duplicate Medicare ID cards to reviewing your benefits.
Here’s some of the info you’ll need to set up your my Social Security account in order to enroll in Medicare online:
Your date and place of birth
- If you were born outside of the United States, you’ll need your Permanent Resident Card number, and the date and country of your birth.
Your Medicaid number
- Only if you have one
- Names, birthdates and social security numbers (SSN) of current and former spouses from marriages that lasted 10 or more years, or resulted in death (in this case, SSN is optional)
- Beginning and end dates of your marriages
- City, state or country of your marriages
Children’s info: names and birthdates
- Any children under 18 years old and unmarried
- Children aged 18 to 19 and full-time secondary school students
- Children who became disabled before the age of 22
- Dates of service
- Branch served and type of duty
Work history for current year and two years prior
- Employer name
- Hire start and end dates
- Business type (if self-employed)
- Total net income (if self-employed)
Bank details (for direct deposit)
- Your account number
- Your bank’s routing number
Depending on your situation, you may be asked to provide more information.
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Can I Have Both Employer Insurance and Medicare?
You can, but you may not need to. It’s not uncommon to still be working and have other health coverage when you turn 65. Medicare may give you the option of delaying your enrollment or signing up for Medicare alongside your private group plan.
If your employer has fewer than 20 employees
In this case, you’ll need to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65. Parts A and B will act as your primary coverage and pay before your group plan.
If your employer has 20 or more employees
Employees of larger companies with health coverage can often delay their Medicare enrollment. When you do enroll, you’ll need to provide proof of employment and that you had other coverage. When this coverage ends, a special enrollment period will begin.
Medicare Application Approval Process?
Once you complete your Medicare enrollment, you’ll be able to track your application status by logging in to your my Social Security account. Keep in mind that the Social Security representative may need to contact you with follow-up questions, or to request more information.
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Is Medicare Mandatory When You Turn 65?
No, Medicare is not mandatory. It is, however, one of the top healthcare options for older Americans. Medicare is largely funded through payroll taxes. That means if you worked, Medicare can be a cost-effective way to receive healthcare coverage.
What Happens if You Don't Sign Up for Medicare at 65?
While it’s not required, Medicare often becomes the most cost-efficient means of receiving healthcare as you age. Enrolling after you’re first eligible, however, can leave you paying hefty enrollment penalties. These enrollment penalties are typically tied to how long you delayed enrollment. Some, like those associated with Parts B and D, are also lifetime penalties; you’ll pay a penalty each month for as long as you have your plans.
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