How to Sign Up for Medicare and When
In this video, we are going to review how to sign up for Medicare and when to sign up for Medicare. By the end of this video presentation, you will know how to sign up for Medicare, When to sign up for Medicare and whether or not you qualify to sign up for Medicare online.
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 or not you qualify to sign up for Medicare online…I will be answering all these questions and more in this video.
Not everyone turning 65 needs to sign up for Medicare. In fact, under some common circumstances, it’s in your best interest to delay enrolling in at least part of Medicare.
I will explain in a minute.
First; when you sign up for Medicare what are you signing up for?
When you first sign up for Medicare you will be signing up for Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B.
Medicare Part A is that part of your Medicare health insurance that is used when you are an inpatient in a medical facility like a hospital, nursing facility or hospice. Or, if you are unable to travel and must have home health care. That is all covered under Medicare Part A. I am not going to go into detail about the different parts of Medicare in this video, or discuss copays and deductibles. That’s a subject for a separate video.
What I want you to know about for this video is that Medicare Part A is hospital inpatient insurance only. It is not the Medicare coverage you use when you visit a doctor.
- This is also the Medicare you paid for out of payroll taxes. That’s that 1.45% tax that comes out of your paycheck. That pays for Medicare Part A.
- As long as you or your spouse paid that tax for at least 10-years, you qualify for Medicare Part A and your Medicare Part A is free. No additional costs.
You are not required to sign up for Medicare Part A when you turn 65 and there are no late penalties if you qualify for Medicare Part A.
Because your Medicare Part A it is already paid for, there is no reason not to sign up for Medicare Part A when you are eligible. It does not interfere with other health insurance and it cost you nothing to have it. Medicare Part B is health insurance for Outpatient and Physician services. This is the health insurance you use when you visit a doctor or get tests done.
Medicare Part B is not free and it was not paid for by your Medicare payroll tax. You have a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. That monthly premium is based on your income. It’s based on your adjusted gross income as of 2-years ago.
If your income was $85,000 or less when filed individually or $170,000 or less if filed jointly – you simply pay the base monthly rate. If your income was higher, you pay extra. Those details are for the next video, or just look up “cost of Medicare Part B” on the Medicare.gov website for the current numbers. They can change yearly.
The monthly premium for Medicare Part B is typically deducted from your Social Security income check. However, if you are not yet taking your Social Security income, Medicare will send you a bill for your Medicare Part B. It will be a quarterly bill. If you are supposed to sign up for Medicare Part B and you do not, there is a penalty.
But, not everyone needs to sign up for Medicare Part B and if you don’t need to you shouldn’t. That is very important and I will cover that in a moment. In addition, if you are currently contributing to a Health Savings Account, delaying your enrolment in Medicare Part A can create a Tax issue. I will talk about that near the end of this video when I give a few “warnings” to avoid common costly mistakes.
That’s the What.
Now we get into the when and how to sign up for Medicare.
I know that learning this part of Medicare can be a bit confusing. Medicare has a lot of rules. So, to help you understand all you need to know very quickly, I am going to break down or separate Medicare rules with their exceptions. As they say, every rule has its exceptions. It’s those exceptions that often lead to confusion.
First, understand that Medicare rules are meant to apply to everyone. Everyone should pay attention to the rules.
Exceptions only apply to select groups of people. If the exception does not apply to you, then set that thought aside. Don’t concern yourself with it and just focus on the rule.
Medicare rule #1: you have a 7-month window to sign up for Medicare. That window is based on the month of your birthday. It includes the month of your birthday, the three calendar months before your birthday and the three calendar months after your birthday.
Medicare rule #2: Medicare starts the first day of the month you turn 65.
Using those two rules, let’s look at an example. Let’s say your birthday is April 20th.
If your birthday is April 20, then Medicare starts April 01.
Your 7-month window will include the month of April, it will include the three months before your birthday month – that’s January, February, and March. Plus it includes the three months after your birthday month which is May, June, and July.
So if your birthday is April, you have from January to the end of July to enroll in Medicare. That is called your Medicare initial enrollment period.
That applies to everyone.
Now here is Medicare Rule Exception #1
If your birthday happens to be on the first day of the month, everything is moved forward one month.
Using the above example, if your birthday is on April 01, then your Medicare can start March 01 and your enrollment period is from December through the end of June.
Exception # 2: If you are disabled and receiving Social Security income prior to turning 65, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you wish to Opt out of Medicare Part B, you may do so. You will have that option included in your Welcome to Medicare packet.
Exception # 3: This is the most common exception. If you have health insurance through an employer or spouse’s employer and it is with a company that has 20 or more employees and you will continue to have that insurance after you are 65, you do not need to enroll in Medicare Part B right away and you should not enroll in Medicare Part B during your seven months initial enrollment period.
You want to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B until your employer group health insurance is coming to an end.
This is one of the most important exceptions. It applies to a lot of people. To understand it best there is a term you need to become familiar with.
That term is “Creditable coverage”. Creditable meaning you get credit for it.
If your group health insurance is roughly equal to the insurance you get from Medicare it is called creditable coverage. If you have creditable health insurance, you can and should delay enrolling in Medicare Part B. If you are not sure if your employer coverage is creditable, just ask your benefits people. They will know.
All of your guarantees, your rights to get certain Medicare coverage are anchored to the date your Medicare Part B starts. That is called its Effective Date.
For example; you can get any Medicare supplement you want without any medical questions being asked, without pre-existing conditions as long as you sign up for the Medicare supplement within six months your Medicare Part B effective date. After that six month period, you are no longer guaranteed to get a supplement.
So, delay signing up for Medicare Part B until after your employer health insurance comes to an end. As long as you have creditable coverage you can enroll in Medicare Part B at any time, or delay it as long as you need.
Warning – COBRA is not creditable coverage.
That’s When To enroll – next we will cover How to sign up for Medicare.
Then I will wrap this up with a couple other exceptions and warnings that are very important. You sign up for Medicare through Social Security.
Medicare laws are a subsection of Social Security laws. So your enrollment is directly through Social Security. You can enroll online at SSA.gov
It’s a simple process that takes less than 15 minutes. However, depending on the situation, you may need to bring in documents like your birth certificate to a Social Security office. When you enroll online, they will let you know if they need any identifying documents during that process.
You can also enroll at any Social Security office.
If you have already enrolled in Medicare Part A and you want to add Medicare Part B, you will have to do so at a Social Security office. You cannot do that online.
Here are a few warnings for How to Sign up for Medicare:
#1: If you live in an area where there are a lot of people retiring, you may need to set up an appointment with your social security office in advance. There are some places in Florida, for example, where you have to make an appointment 3-months in advance.
Don’t assume you can just walk in. Call in advance just to be sure.
#2: If you have signed up for Medicare at a Social Security office check your enrollment status. Don’t assume everything was completed properly. I have seen occasions where people needed to go back three times to make sure all the paperwork was processed.
#3 HSA accounts. If you have an HSA account, this is very important. It is illegal to continue to contribute to an HSA account after your Medicare has started. It will create tax penalties. But here is the kicker; if you decided to delay signing up for Medicare Part A. If you decide not to sign up for Medicare Part A during your initial enrollment period. Then, sometime later, when you enroll your Medicare Part A will start 6-months before your enrollment.
For example, let’s say your Medicare initial enrollment date was three years ago. You had creditable coverage and an HSA account and you kept it going. Now you want to enroll in Medicare Part A effective this coming June 01. When you do, your Medicare Part A will actually start January 01. Six months earlier.
If you were contributing to your HAS account during that time you need to reverse out those payments or you will pay a tax penalty.
There you have it. You now know when, where and how to sign up for Medicare.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please Like this video, press the thumbs up for me if you found this information useful. When you do, you help other people researching the same questions you had, find this video.
For Part D drug plan info visit: http://www.medicare.gov
Also visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medigap
Get your Medicare Guide to supplements here: https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/02110-Medicare-Medigap.guide.pdf
And your Medicare & You Guide here: https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
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