When And How Do I Sign Up For Medicare?
Medicare is the health insurance program of the U.S. government for qualified individuals 65 years of age and up. Younger individuals with certain illnesses and disabilities are also eligible to enroll in Medicare. What is Medicare anyway?
Basically, Medicare supports its beneficiaries by subsidizing health care costs. When enrolling in Medicare, you get coverage for Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A provides hospital insurance where it will pay for the expense of hospital in-patient care or the cost of staying in a skilled nursing facility for a limited time after a hospital stay. Some hospice care and home health care services are also covered by Part A. Medicare Part B provides medical insurance which helps shoulder the expenses of services given by doctors as well as other health care providers, for outpatient care, durable medical equipment, home health care, and certain preventive services.
While Medicare does help beneficiaries in financing the cost of some medical and health care services, it doesn’t provide coverage for all medical costs or for the cost of nearly all long-term care. You have options on how you can obtain coverage from Medicare. If you decide to get the Original Medicare where Part A and Part B are covered, you have the option to purchase a separate policy from a Medicare-approved private insurer to supplement your Original Medicare coverage.
How Do I Sign Up For Medicare?
One of the most common questions asked by individuals approaching 65 years old and who qualify for Medicare is “How do I sign up for Medicare?”.
When the time comes for you to sign up for Medicare, there are several ways for you to do this. For some eligible individuals, enrolment in Medicare is automatic, whereas enrolment for others will rely on when and how they have come to be eligible. If you are already getting Social Security, enrollment in Medicare is automatic when you reach 65. But if you don’t receive such benefits, there are three ways to sign up:
- Head to the website of Social Security and apply online for Medicare
- Get in touch with Social Security
- Visit the office of Social Security in your area
When Should You Enroll For Medicare?
If you aren’t automatically enrolled in Medicare, you need to enroll 3 months prior your 65th birthday for your coverage to begin on the 1st day of the month of your birthday. If your birthdate is the 1st day of the month, your coverage starts on the 1st day of the month before your birthday month.
Technically, you have seven months to sign up for Medicare – 3 months prior your birthday, your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday. If your birthday falls on the 1st day of the month, your sign up period would take the 4 months prior your birthday, your birthday month and the 2 months after your birthday.
If you wait until your birthday month to sign up for Medicare or the 3 months after your birthday, there could be a delay in your coverage. If you missed your 7-month window for initial enrolment, there are some open sign up periods for Medicare that may work with your situation.