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How Can I Request a Medicare Enrollment Application?
Just the Essentials…
To enroll in Original Medicare, contact Social Security either online, over the phone, or through your local office.
To enroll in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D, contact your insurance provider directly, or use a licensed insurance agent.
Failure to enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, or D may result in financial penalties. However, enrollment in Medicare Advantage is strictly voluntary.
Have You Enrolled in Medicare Yet?
If you’re turning 65 this year, it’s important that you start planning for initial enrollment. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In this article, we’ll go over the Medicare enrollment application process for all four parts of Medicare, and some common pitfalls to be aware of during the process.
Wait, I’m Not Enrolled Automatically?
For Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you might be automatically enrolled if you’re currently receiving Social Security benefits, but this is uncommon. Most people don’t begin receiving Social Security until they turn 70; a full five years after you become eligible for Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also won’t go out of their way to contact you when you first become eligible, so it’s your responsibility to keep track of things.
The enrollment process varies slightly depending on which part of Medicare you’re enrolling in, so let’s break it down bit by bit.
Application for Enrollment in Medicare Part A and B
Medicare Part A and B, also known as Original Medicare, are the foundational programs that the rest of Medicare is based on. The other components (Medicare Part C, Part D, and Medigap) all interact with Parts A and B in some way, so enrollment in at least one (and ideally both) is critical before you do anything else.
Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins three months before your 65th birthday month, and ends three months after, though there’s some variation depending on how you qualify. It’s highly recommended that, unless you have certain qualifying circumstances, you enroll during this period to avoid any financial penalties. If nothing else, you should definitely submit an application for enrollment in Medicare Part B.
Even though Social Security is a separate program, you still need to contact Social Security to get an application for enrollment. You can either do this online, at your local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and place of birth. People receiving benefits through the Railroad Retirement Board should contact them at 1-877-772-5772.
Failure to enroll during your IEP can result in penalties on your monthly premium. These penalties don’t go away, and increase as you continue to put off enrollment, so don’t delay.
Applying for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D
Once you’ve applied for Original Medicare, you can submit an application for Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, as well as Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs. In many (but not all) cases, these services are bundled together, so you’ll only need to submit one application.
You can do this during your IEP, or during another Medicare enrollment period. If you’ve never enrolled in Medicare Advantage before, this will usually be during Annual Enrollment from October 15 – December 7. If you’re already enrolled, you can change your plan during Open Enrollment from January 1 – March 31. You may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) under certain circumstances, such as moving, losing employment related coverage, or getting married.
Unlike Original Medicare, enrollment for Medicare Parts C and Medicare Part D is done through private providers. One of the best ways to enroll is via a licensed insurance agent, such as those we employ here at MedicareInsurance.com. If you prefer, you can also contact a provider directly, though this may require more research on your part. An agent can help you compare plans in more detail, though they are limited to plans offered by partnered providers. If you’re curious about the plans offered here, you can use our free comparison tool to search plans in your area.
There is no penalty for not enrolling in Medicare Part C: it is entirely optional. However, there is a small penalty for failing to enroll in Medicare Part D and deciding to enroll at a later time, so it’s important to arrange for prescription drug coverage early if you plan on using it at all.
Applying for Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)
Medigap plans, which are only available with Original Medicare, offer limited but consistent benefits to beneficiaries, like lower deductibles and additional days in the hospital. Like Medicare Parts C and D, these are private programs available directly from an insurer, or through a licensed agent. However, they are not bound by the normal enrollment period structure.
You have a one-time open enrollment period for Medigap which begins the month your Medicare coverage begins and lasts a total of six months. During this time, you have ‘guaranteed issue rights’ to a Medigap plan, meaning you cannot be refused coverage for any reason. Outside of this period, your ability to drop or switch plans depends on state law, though there are select situations where you can enroll in a new Medigap plan after losing or changing coverage.
Be aware, it is illegal to sell Medigap coverage to someone enrolled in Medicare Advantage. These two programs are mutually exclusive.
If you’re confused about enrolling in any sort of Medicare plan, our licensed insurance agents can help guide you through the process. Call us at (800) 950-0608 to speak to an agent today.
- Applying for Medicare: How and When?
- Medicare: how it works and how to enroll | USAGov
- When Will My Medicare Coverage Begin?
- Fact Sheet: Deciding whether to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B when you Turn 65
- Enrollment Forms | Medicare
- Sign up for Medicare | SSA
- When does Medicare coverage start?
- Get the Facts: An In-Depth Look at Medicare Insurance Plans
- Part D late enrollment penalty | Medicare
- Medicare Advantage vs Medigap: Which is Better?
- Can I change my Medigap policy? | Medicare
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