How to sign up for Medicare
You’ve worked your entire life and now it’s finally time to start taking advantage of some of the programs you have been paying taxes for over the years. Two of the most important programs you will sign up for are Medicare and social security. If you sign up at the wrong time or don’t sign up at all, you may be faced with steep penalties down the road. But don’t worry, this article explains everything you need to know about the Medicare sign up.
How to sign up for Medicare
The first step in signing up for Medicare, is to determine if you are even eligible. There are a few ways to qualify and there are certain events that trigger Medicare to start. Determining if you’re eligible for Medicare is important to know if you can get its benefits. Here are some things to consider:
- Age: Most people can get Medicare when they turn 65. But there are exceptions for people with disabilities or certain health conditions.
- Work History: If you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years (40 quarters), you might qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A.
- Social Security Disability: If you’ve been getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for 24 months, you’ll automatically become eligible for Medicare.
- End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD): If you have ESRD, which is a serious kidney condition, you may be eligible for Medicare, no matter your age.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): If you have ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, you automatically qualify for Medicare when your disability benefits start.
To be sure if you’re eligible and get specific information, it’s a good idea to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) . You can visit their website at ssa.gov. They can help you understand your situation and guide you through the eligibility process.
Understand the Parts of Medicare:
In this article, we wont dive very deep into the specifics of how Medicare works. However; we do think its important to know a few basics before you sign up. Medicare is divided into different parts that cover different services. It’s good to know about these parts to understand what they offer. The main parts are:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance): It covers hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and some home healthcare service’s.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance): It covers doctor visits, outpatient care, preventive services, and medical supplies.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage): It’s an alternative way to get Medicare benefits through private insurance companies approved by Medicare.
- Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage): It helps with the cost of prescription medications and is provided by private insurance companies.
When should I sign up for Medicare?
When you’re close to turning 65, there’s a seven-month window called the Initial Enrollment Period. It starts three months before your birthday month and ends three months after. During this time, you can sign up for Medicare Parts A and B without paying extra fees. It is also the best time to buy your supplemental coverage as certain rules prohibit insurers from denying you or charging higher prices because of health issues.
What are the different ways I can sign up for Medicare?
There are a few different ways you can sign up. Some we recommend over others, but its your choice and you can do it on the phone, online or in person.
Apply Online or by Phone:
You have a couple of options to apply for Medicare. One way is to apply online on the Social Security Administration’s website (ssa.gov). The online application is simple and takes less than 10 minutes. Another option is to call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number (1-800-772-1213) and apply over the phone.
Visit a Social Security Office:
If you prefer talking to someone face-to-face or need help with the application, you can go to your local Social Security office. You can find the nearest office by using the Social Security Administration’s office locator on their website. It’s a good idea to make an appointment in advance to avoid long waits.
A broker at LMS can sign you up over the phone for free:
Perhaps you are not comfortable doing important things online? Or maybe you don’t want to go through the frustration of sitting on hold with Social Security. Whatever the case may be a broker at LMS can do the application with you .There is never a fee for this service, simply call to set an appointment, or use this link to self schedule.
Know about Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs):
If you miss the Initial Enrollment Period, don’t worry. There are other times, called Special Enrollment Periods, when you can still sign up for Medicare without paying extra fees. These periods are triggered by specific life events. This could be losing your job-based health coverage, retiring, or moving to a new area. It’s important to be aware of these periods to avoid extra costs.
What if I missed my window?
If you missed your window to sign up and you don’t have any SEP’s listed above, you can always sign up during the General Election Period (GEP).
The General Enrollment Period (GEP) is a specific time frame during which individuals can sign up for Medicare if they missed their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The General Enrollment Period occurs annually from January 1st to March 31st. It is intended for individuals who didn’t enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B during their Initial Enrollment Period and don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
During the General Enrollment Period, eligible individuals can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. It’s important to note that if you enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage will start the very next month. Additionally, late enrollment penalties may apply if you didn’t sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period or qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
It’s recommended to sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid any gaps in coverage or penalties. However, if you missed that opportunity, the General Enrollment Period offers another chance to enroll in Medicare. If you have questions or need assistance with the enrollment process, it’s best to contact the Social Security Administration or visit their website for further guidance.
Consider Extra Coverage:
While Original Medicare (Parts A and B) provides important coverage, it may not cover everything. You might want to think about getting additional coverage. These options include Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). These plans can help fill in the gaps, reduce your out-of-pocket costs, and give you more benefits.
Signing up for Medicare is an important step when you’re approaching 65 or have qualifying disabilities. By understanding your eligibility, the different parts of Medicare, and the enrollment process, you can ensure you get the healthcare benefits you need. Remember to sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period. You can explore extra coverage options, and seek help if you need it. Take charge of your healthcare by signing up for Medicare and enjoy peace of mind for your well-being.