Simplifying Medicare

How do I sign up for Part A and Part B?

The Social Security Administration handles most of the paperwork for joining Medicare. If you are drawing Social Security when you turn age 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you are not on Social Security when you turn age 65, then you need to go to the Social Security Web site and sign up. It is important to do that at least 2 – 3 months before you turn 65 so that the paper work can be completed by your birthdate.

Social Security website.
This is where you can enroll for Part A and Part B.  Or you can go to your local Social Security office and sign up there.

Medicare Made Clear (PDF)
When do I become eligible for Medicare?
You are eligible when you turn 65 years old, or if you are under 65 and qualify on the basis of disability or other special situation.

What is the difference?
Medicare Part A
Part A insurance helps pay for inpatient hospital stays or skilled nursing care. Part A has an $1,316 benefit period deductible. The federal government covers the cost for Part A, if you have contributed into Social Security for 40 quarters (10 years). If you have not contributed to Social Security, there is a cost for Part A.

Medicare Part B
Part B helps pay for doctor’s and outpatient care. Part B has an $140 annual deductible. There is a cost to you for Part B, and it is figured by your income.  The standard Part B premium amount is $134 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits will pay less than this amount ($109 on average).

Medicare Part C
Part C is supplemental insurance that you purchase to help defray the medical costs involved with Part A and Part B.  Medicare Part C is another name for Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Part D
Part D helps pay for prescription drug coverage. Part D (or PDP plan) coverage is not automatic. If you delay in signing up for Part D after becoming eligible for Medicare, the government may attach at penalty on your premium, when you do decide to take out a Part D (PDP) plan.

Enrollment Windows and Timing

When Can I enroll?

Medicare Part A
Any time after you are 64 years and 9 months old or otherwise become eligible for Medicare, enrollment is automatic if you are already drawing Social Security.

What if I am late for signing up for Part A?
There are no penalties for signing up late, unless you are one of the people who pay a monthly premium for Part A because neither you nor your spouse contributed enough to Social Security. Then you may pay a penalty on your premium for signing up late.

Medicare Part B
Anytime from three months before you become eligible for Medicare until three months after your eligibility month.

What if I am late for signing up for Part B?
If you enroll after the initial enrollment period, premiums will be higher unless you qualify for an exception.

Medicare Part D
Your initial enrollment period is up to three months before and up to three months after your eligibility month.

What if I am late for signing up for Part D?
If you miss your enrollment window, you must wait until Medicare open enrollment (October 15th through December 7th). Enroll late and premiums could be higher.