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Medicare Enrollment Checklist


Enrolling in Medicare is a major life change. With several parts, plans, and premiums, it can all be confusing. If you’re about to sign up for Medicare and are shopping around for coverage options, let us help guide you. We put together this checklist to help you select the best plan and know what to expect during and after the enrollment process.

Three Months Before Turning 65

As a general rule, it’s best to enroll in Original Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. This is when your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins. Your IEP is a seven-month opportunity to sign up for Parts A and B. It begins three months before you turn 65 and lasts through the month of your 65th birthday, ending on the last day of the third month following your birthday month. If you wish to instead sign up for Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, you can do so during your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP).

It’s not mandatory to sign up for Medicare during your IEP, but you could end up paying late penalty fees if you miss it. If you’re working past 65, it’s also a good time to consider whether or not you plan to stay insured through your employer. 

Determining Which Medicare Plan is Right For You

When you first enroll in Medicare, you can choose from either Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. If you’re considering an Advantage plan, we recommend also reviewing the Medicare Advantage checklist to help you make a decision. You want to make sure to choose your plan wisely. Five things you should consider before enrolling in Medicare are:

  1. Plan costs 
  2. Your overall health
  3. Prescription drugs   
  4. Needing to purchase additional coverage
  5. If your doctor is still in-network

If you choose Original Medicare, you can also sign up for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. However, those who sign up for an Advantage plan cannot purchase this additional coverage.

When is the Best Time to Enroll in Medicare?

The best time to enroll in Original Medicare is as soon as you become eligible. As we mentioned above, your Initial Enrollment Period is unique to your 65th birthday, which means your IEP only happens once – unless you’re Medicare-eligible due to disability, in which case it happens again when you turn 65. If you miss your enrollment period, you’ll have to wait until Medicare’s General Enrollment Period. If you have health insurance through your employer, you can delay enrolling in Parts A and B, without facing a late enrollment penalty if you enroll later.

Large group insurance with 20 or more employees counts as creditable coverage.

What Documents Do I Need to Enroll in Medicare?

Medicare enrollment is based on several individual factors, including if a person receives Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. You can apply for Medicare online, by phone, or in person, but be prepared to present additional documentation. For instance, if you’re applying for Original Medicare, you need your Social Security card, proof of citizenship, and birth certificate.

Do I Need Supplemental Medicare Insurance?

Medicare doesn’t cover everything, which is why you should consider choosing Medigap coverage. These policies offer additional coverage for deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Medicare pays its portion first, while your Medigap coverage acts as secondary insurance and pays the remaining costs.

It’s important to remember these plans come with a monthly premium that you must pay along with your Part B premium.

Medicare Part D Enrollment

Medicare Part D plans are prescription drug plans. They help pay for brand-name and generic prescription drugs that Parts A and B don’t cover. While Part D isn’t mandatory, your premium will be higher the longer you’ve gone without it. Just like Original Medicare, it’s best to sign up when you first become eligible during your Initial Enrollment Period.

FAQs

Do I need Medicare Part D?
You don’t need Part D coverage, but delaying coverage could result in late penalties. In addition, if you don’t enroll when you first become eligible, you put yourself in jeopardy of going without medications or needing to pay much higher prices.
What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?
Whether you enroll in person, over the phone, or online, you may need the following: Social Security card, proof of citizenship, driver’s license, and birth certificate.
Is it mandatory to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65?
Simply put, no it’s not mandatory. But you should sign up for Original Medicare when you turn 65. If you have employer insurance, Medicare pays first. 

How to Understand Medicare Before Enrolling

Education is key to making smart decisions when it comes to your health care. That's why we at MedicareFAQ strive to provide all the answers to your Medicare-related questions. The more you know about your options, the better choices you will make when it comes to your coverage.

If you're enrolling in Medicare soon and want to know more about which plans are available to you, we're here for you. Call the number above or fill out our online rate comparison form to begin your search for the best policy for your needs.

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Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

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