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New to Medicare? Start Here!


If you’re newly enrolled in Medicare or will be eligible soon, you might feel overwhelmed. Surely, the mail you’re receiving and the commercials you see on TV might contribute to your confusion. You’re not alone; Medicare and its many parts can be confusing for everyone. Add in all the Medigap plan options available, and the uncertainty increases. How can you know if you have the right plan for your needs? Fortunately, we’re here to help you find your way through the Medicare maze. We’ll give you the confidence to make the best decision for this new step in your healthcare.

How to Get Medicare When You’re New

If you’re collecting Social Security benefits due to disability or retirement, you’ll be enrolled automatically in Part A and Part B. If you aren’t, you’ll need to apply for these Parts. Part A and Part B are also known as Original Medicare. For many, Medicare starts when you turn 65, but some people on disability may be eligible.

Medicare Eligibility and Medicare Age

You’re Medicare-eligible when you reach age 65 or receive Social Security benefits for 24 months. You can also enroll if you’ve been diagnosed with ALS (automatic enrollment) or ESRD (self-enroll).

If you’re working past your 65th birthday, you’ll need to consider whether it would make more sense to stay on your employer’s plan or take Medicare. To know which makes more sense, you’ll need to know the cost of coverage and the number of employees at your employer.

Medicare Enrollment Process

If you don’t get Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits before your 65th birthday, you’ll need to enroll through Social Security.

Social Security will enroll you in Part A and Part B. If you want Medicare Advantage or Medigap for extra coverage, you’ll need to speak to a licensed agent.

You can sign up for Part A and Part B by:

  • Visiting your local Social Security office
  • Calling Social Security
  • Filling out an online application
  • Calling the Railroad Retirement Board if you worked on a railroad

Medicare 101

Part A is hospital/inpatient coverage, and Part B is medical/outpatient coverage. These do not cover everything. Depending on your health needs, it could be beneficial to add a Part D prescription drug plan and a Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap) plan. Part C of Medicare is also known as Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Advantage serves as a Medicare “replacement” plan. It includes the same benefits as Part A and Part B and also often includes built-in prescription drug coverage, and coverage for dental, vision, and hearing. Advantage plans also regularly include perks such as gym memberships.

All of these options make Medicare Advantage plans seem attractive. These plans can work well for some beneficiaries. Make sure your doctors are in the network of an Advantage plan before you enroll. If your doctors are not in-network, you can end up paying for everything out-of-pocket.

When comparing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans as options, consider your future health and budget needs carefully. There’s no one-size-fits-all plan. Understanding how Medigap plans work helps in finding the best coverage for you.

New to Medigap

Medicare Supplements, or Medigap, covers the 20% of health costs that Original Medicare does not pay. If you have Part A and Part B, but no Medigap plan, you will be paying this out of pocket.

If you plan to travel outside the United States, Medigap coverage is crucial. Some policies offer foreign emergency coverage, which is otherwise not covered. Several Medigap plan options are available as additional coverage. When you hear someone talk about a “Plan” instead of a “Part” of Medicare, this is a reference to Medigap. Medigap plans are lettered A through N, and each policy offers a different level of benefits.

If you’ve recently enrolled in Medicare, you’re eligible for a six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Even if you have health problems, you can enroll in any Medigap plan during this time. Outside of this time, you’ll have to go through underwriting and might not be able to get the plan you want.

Several factors affect your Medigap premium rate. These include the rating method used, your gender, and your age. The best way to find the lowest premium rates in your area is to speak to a licensed agent.

How to Get Help When You’re New to Medicare

We’re here to help you make an educated decision on your healthcare needs. Having us in your corner can make the complicated process of Medicare enrollment much more straightforward. We’ll make sure you have the coverage you need and aren’t paying for anything you don’t need.

Give us a call at the number above, or submit a rate comparison form. One of our agents will speak to you and help you find the right plan for your future. Our services are 100% free, and you can find out how much you can save in minutes.

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Lindsay Engle

Lindsay Engle is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

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