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How to Sign Up for Medicare Part B Only

Medicare on chalkboard
Just the essentials...
  • Medicare Part B is a voluntary program that usually requires payment of a monthly premium each month that you are covered by the insurance
  • Enrollment for Part B can only happen at certain times and you must meet certain eligibility requirements based on your age and residence status
  • Some people who are already receiving social security benefits may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B. You have the right to keep or refuse this coverage.
  • People with certain disabilities may also be automatically enrolled in Medicare
  • If you do not enroll in Part B when you are first eligible, but choose to enroll later, you will most likely be responsible for a late enrollment payment penalty

What is the difference between Medicare Parts A, B, and D?

Types of Medicare chart

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It covers most hospital visits that are deemed medically necessary, as well as nursing facility care, home health visits, and hospice. For people who have worked long enough to earn 40 credits, which is roughly equivalent to 10 years of working and paying taxes, Medicare Part A should be free.

If you haven’t worked long enough to qualify for this benefit, you can still enroll in Medicare Part A, you will just be responsible for paying a monthly premium.

Medicare Part B provides you with health insurance coverage for medical office visits, as well as coverage for medical equipment, outpatient services, lab tests, X-rays, as well as some other home health, mental health, and ambulatory services. Most people are required to pay a monthly premium to have Medicare Part B coverage.

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. Part D is different than Part A and B because it is not provided directly by the government but through private insurance companies that have contracts with the government. You must choose a Part D plan that works with your preexisting health benefits. If you already have parts A and B, you can choose a stand alone part D plan.

“Medicare Part C” is really a separate entity that allows private companies to provide some Medicare benefits and offset the cost. These are known as Medicare Advantage plans.

Enter your zip above to compare Medicare Advantage plans from your state’s top private Medicare companies for free!

What are the enrollment requirement for Medicare Part B?

Requirements binder

If you are entitled to premium-free Part A, you will be eligible to enroll in Medicare Part B at the same time. It is not necessary to enroll in both. If you are required to pay a premium for Medicare Part A, there are requirements that you must meet in order to successfully enroll in Medicare Part B.

You must be at least 65 or older, be a United States resident and citizen, or be a legal resident of the United States who has been living in the United States for at least five continuous years before the month that you will be filing for Medicare.

Who qualifies for automatic enrollment in Medicare Part B?

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If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits at least four months before becoming eligible for Medicare Part B based on age and residential status will be automatically enrolled in both premium-free Part A and Part B.

You will have the option to keep or refuse the Medicare Part B coverage. If you live in Puerto Rico and are eligible for automatic enrollment, you will only be automatically enrolled in Part A.

Part B will require a separate enrollment procedure.

If you are entitled to monthly Social Security or RRB benefits based on disability, or if you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease are all entitled to premium free Medicare Part A, but are most likely still responsible for paying the monthly premium for Medicare part B.

How do I sign up for part B?

There are several ways to sign up for Medicare Part B. You can apply online at the social security website using the application for enrollment in part B, apply in person at your local social security office, or call the social security office number.

If you worked for a railroad, the RRB can assist you with your application.

Initial Enrollment Period

Medicare enrollment form

The initial enrollment period is a seven month period that starts three months before you turn 65 and is over three months after you turn 65. If you are eligible for Medicare before you turn 65 due to disability, your initial enrollment period will start on your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

The starting date of your coverage will vary depending on when you enroll during the initial enrollment period. If you enroll during the first three months, coverage will start the first day that you are eligible for Medicare. If you enroll in the later months during the initial enrollment period, your coverage start date may be delayed.

If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you will be responsible for paying the late enrollment penalty that will be assessed for as long as you have Medicare Part B.

General Enrollment Period

There is a general enrollment period that takes place between January 1 and March 31 of every year. Original medicare coverage for both parts A and B will begin in July 1 of that year.

You still must meet the eligibility requirements to enroll during the general enrollment period.

Special Enrollment Periods

Calendar with date circled

There are several special enrollment periods for the working aged and disabled and international volunteers. If you did not originally enroll in Medicare Part B because you were covered by an employer-based health insurance, you can get a special enrollment period of eight months when your employment ends.

If you did not enroll when you were first eligible because you were doing volunteer work for a tax-exempt organization that provided you with health insurance, you will get a special enrollment period of 12 months when you return to the United States.

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MULTIPLAN_GHHK5LLEN_Accepted Last Updated 3/18/2018