Applying for Medicare may seem like a daunting task. Navigating the Medicare maze can be very time consuming and confusing. Here, we make it a little easier for you by answering the most common questions new beneficiaries ask when applying for Medicare.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Medicaid Act into law in 1965. Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (medical coverage) are referred to as “Original Medicare.” Part C is known as Medicare Advantage (private insurance) and Part D covers prescription drugs.
Then there’s Medicare Supplements, also know as Medigap plans. These plans fill in the gaps that your Original Medicare plan doesn’t cover.
Applying for Medicare Parts A and B is handled by the Social Security Office. To make it easier for you to understand the application process, we’ve compiled a list of most commonly asked questions and answers about applying for Medicare and Medicare programs.
Many people will be automatically enrolled in Medicare if they are collecting social security and are turning 65. Your benefits become effective at the start of the month of your birth.
If you’re not planning to collect your social security benefits immediately, you’re still eligible for Medicare. Once you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B, you can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan to cover the additional costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for.
Medicare Parts A & B only cover 80% of your medical costs, leaving you with the remaining 20% plus deductibles, coinsurance and copays. You can apply for additional Medicare options by contacting one of our licensed Medicare agents, or use our online rate form.
When to Apply for Medicare Benefits
You may apply for your Medicare benefits three months prior to your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday and the three months following your birthday, even if you’re not planning to collect social security. This seven month enrollment period is referred to as the Initial Enrollment Period.
You should sign up when you’re first eligible to collect Medicare, as you may be penalized for late enrollment. If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period you can enroll during the General Enrollment Period. However, you may have to pay a late fee for as long as you receive Medicare benefits. The General Enrollment period is open from January 1 – March 31.
You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if your coverage ends from your employer. COBRA is not counted as an employee benefit. Ensure that you’re not left without coverage.
How to Apply for Medicare Part A and Part B
You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B if you contributed sufficient funds to Medicare during your working years, or if your spouse contributed sufficient funds to Medicare.
Word of advice, get drug coverage when you’re first eligible. If you don’t, you may be penalized unless you have other legitimate prescription drug coverage.
Ideally, you would want to have Original Medicare + Medigap + Medicare Part D to cover your prescription medications. Original Medicare and Medigap do not cover prescription drugs.
Once you know you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you’ll want to compare rates for Part D plans by filling out our online rate form.
How to Apply for Medicare Part C
Medicare Part C is referred as “Medicare Advantage.” Medicare Advantage is private insurance and replaces your Medicare Parts A and B. It may provide additional coverage such as vision, dental or drug coverage, but they come with many limitations. Such as what doctors you can see as well as higher out of pocket costs.
You cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan if you have an Advantage plan. For those who want to switch back to Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, you can do so during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.
How to Apply for Medicare if you’re Disabled
If you’re disabled and have been collecting social security for 24 months, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare. If you live outside the United States and are disabled, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A only. You will need to manually enroll yourself in Medicare Part B.
What Documents do I Need to Apply for Medicare
The following documents may be required and you should have them handy.
- Your birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of United States citizenship or legal residency if not born in the US
- Your Social Security card if you’re already receiving benefits
- Health insurance information about the type and dates of coverage
- Information about your employment, such as a W-2 form, if you’re still working
- US military discharge papers if you served before 1968
Do I need to Re-apply to Medicare Every Year
No, you do not need to reapply every year. However, it makes sense to review your coverage every year including your drug coverage because your needs may change. Talk to one of our agents today if you have questions regarding your current Medicare coverage.
Can I only Apply to Medicare During Open Enrollment
This is commonly misunderstood question. It’s best to enroll in Original Medicare within the seven month bracket surrounding your birthday. You can also enroll in Medicare under Special Enrollment if you have been on another plan, such as an employer supported medical benefit program.
If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you can also enroll during the General Enrollment Period. Your coverage will begin July 1 of the same year.
You can enroll in a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan at any time. But keep in mind, you want to enroll in a Medicare Supplement as soon as you have Medicare Part B since your granted Guaranteed Issue. You also want to enroll in Part D as soon as your able to so you don’t get penalized.
How do I Apply for Medicare Special Enrollment Period
As Medicare Special Enrollment situations vary, there are certain situations where you can enroll outside the normal enrollment periods. These SEPs give you an opportunity to enroll without losing guaranteed issue.
Supplemental Medicare plans, or Medigap, helps pick up health costs such as copays and coinsurance. They’re sold by private insurance companies. Medigap plans are lettered A-N, each with a different set of benefits.
These benefits are all the same for each letter plan, regardless of what carrier you choose to go with. It’s important to compare rates with the carriers in your area. Each carrier uses a different rating method to determine your premium.
To apply for a Medicare Supplement plan, contact us today. You can call us directly using the number above, or fill out our online rate form. While you’re waiting for your Original Medicare card, we’ll get you going on a Medigap plan to supplement those out of pocket costs your Original Medicare doesn’t cover.
We can also get your enrolled in a Part D plan to cover your prescription medications. Our services are 100% free, our agents are here to educate you on all your Medicare options.