How to Sign Up For Medicare and When

Sign-Up for Medicare

As soon as you turn 64-years of age you should start researching Medicare. The first step is to learn how to sign-up for Medicare, when to sign-up for Medicare and whether you qualify to sign-up for Medicare online.  I will be answering these questions and more in this blog post. This blog post is designed to compliment my video “How to Sign-Up for Medicare and When?” while updating the information for some changes that occurred post Covid-19.

Medicare Explained

Of course, we cannot discuss how to sign up for Medicare without using some of Medicare’s terminology.  So, let’s start by briefly reviewing what you need to know about Medicare. When you sign-up for Medicare you will receive a red, white, and blue card as proof  of enrollment in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.  We will cover Medicare Part A and Part B very shortly. One of the most confusing features of Medicare is the terminology.  Medicare is made up of “Parts” and those parts are referred to by a letter.  There is Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, Medicare Part D and lastly Medicare Part C (aka Medicare Advantage Plans) that are a privatized replacement of Medicare Parts A & B. In this article we will focus solely on Medicare Part A and Part B also known as Original Medicare.

What is Medicare Part A?

Medicare Part A is that part of your Medicare health insurance that is used when you are an inpatient in a medical facility.  I can be a a hospital, skilled nursing facility or hospice. Or, if you are unable to travel and must have home healthcare. That is all covered under Medicare Part A.    In the simplest of terms, Medicare Part A is your inpatient Medicare coverage. Medicare Part A is also that portion of your Medicare that you pay for through payroll taxes.  Have you ever looked at your pay stub and noticed a deduction for Medicare?  Those payroll deductions pay for Medicare Part A.  If you or your spouse has paid that tax for at least 40-quarters, then your Medicare Part A should be fully paid for. If you or your spouse have not paid that tax for at least 40-quarters, then you may be able to buy Medicare Part A.  You must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident and Part A for you will have a monthly premium. Medicare Part A

FAQ

Yes.  If you are turning 65 and within your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period you can apply online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/.  If you are over age 65 and outside of your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, you will find all you need to enroll online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/.  However, some documents will need to be faxed, mailed or personally delivered to a Social Security office.

No.  While you can use the benefits of your HAS account at any time.  Once any part of Medicare has started, you may no longer contribute to an HAS account without penalty.

Extra caution should be used for those who are over 65 and applying for Medicare because Medicare Part A will start as much as six months retroactive to your application date.

Yes.  Medicare benefits are not predicated on your employment status.

If you miss your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period and did not have creditable healthcare, like employer health insurance, then you will need to apply during the General Enrollment Period.  The General Enrollment Period is from January 01 through March 31, with you Medicare then starting on July 01.

If you have creditable health insurance coverage after the age of 65 you can enroll in Medicare at any time with penalty. 

Most employer plans cost more than Medicare plus a supplement.  In addition, they will typically have higher deductibles and coinsurance than Original Medicare and a supplement.  We advise doing a simple cost benefit analysis before deciding to keep or change from your employer coverage.

If you or your spouse has already paid into Medicare payroll taxes for at least 40-quarters, then your Medicare Part A is fully paid for.  In that case, there is no late enrollment penalty for enrolling in Medicare Part A and you can enroll anytime after age 65.

If you didn’t get Part B when you’re first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10% for each 12-month period you could’ve had Part B but didn’t. In most cases, you’ll have to pay this penalty each time you pay your premiums, for as long as you have Part B. If you are without Medicare part B for less than six months, it is possible to avoid a penalty.

You may owe a late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part D if, after your Medicare Initial enrollment Period, you go a minimum of 63 consecutive days without Medicare Part D or creditable coverage.

The financial penalty for late enrollment in Medicare Part D is 1% of the national base beneficiary premium for each full month without coverage.  You pay this penalty every month for as long as you have Medicare Part D.

The hidden penalty for not having Part D is what you may pay for your prescriptions when you don’t have Part D insurance.  Many serious medical conditions come with drug prices that can bankrupt the average consumer.  Keep in mind that after your initial enrollment period you will have to wait until the Annual Election Period to apply for Medicare Part D (October 15 – December 07) with a January 01 start date.

No.  Many top tier insurance companies will allow you to apply for a Medicare supplement before you have a Medicare number.  Depending on your state, you may submit an application up to six-months in advance.  However, your benefits cannot start until both Medicare Part A and Part B are active.

Yes, the application for Medicare Part D requires a Medicare number.

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