How to Apply for Medicare in 5 Easy Steps
How to apply for Medicare can seem like a super complicated thing to do. But if you break it up into small steps, you will see that it is actually not that hard. Even better, take this list of how to apply for Medicare in 5 easy steps, where all the small steps are prepared for you already. All you need to do is follow these steps and you can apply for Medicare before you know it.
1. Check out Medicare’s different parts.
When you wonder how to apply for Medicare, the first thing to do is to find out which part of Medicare is the one you are looking for. Because Medicare consists of different parts, and the different parts cover different things. First, there is part A. Medicare Part A is sometimes also called Hospital Insurance. This is the one you will want if you are going to be an inpatient in a hospital, if you need to visit a nursing facility, for hospices and some minor healthcare things. Medicare Part B, on the other hand, is the Medical Insurance part of Medicare. This is for outpatient staff, medical supplies, preventive treatments and specific services of doctors. So when you wonder how to apply for Medicare, make sure you know if you need Part A or Part B.
2. Get the timing right.
You cannot apply for Medicare at any time in your life. For some people, Medicare coverage is automatic and there is no need for them to apply at all. But if that is not the case for you, then you need to make sure you hit the right time frame when you apply for Medicare. If you apply for Medicare for the first time and have never enrolled before, then you need to apply during your Initial Enrollment Period. This enrollment period is 7 months long and you can do it around the time you turn 65 years old. Specifically, the enrollment period starts three months before the month you turn 65, then continues throughout the month you turn 65 in, and then continues for three more months. So, for example, if you turn 65 in May, your enrollment period will start in February and end in August. When you apply for Medicare, make sure not to miss this period, because doing so may lead to fees or gaps in coverage.
3. Pick Part A or Part B.
If you are already thinking about how to apply for Medicare, it is probably best to apply for Medicare Part A as soon as you can. This is true even if your employer still covers you with health insurance. If you paid Medicare taxes while you worked, then you will not have to pay any premiums for Medicare Part A when you apply for it, so there really is no reason to delay. However, for Medicare Part B, it might be a different story. It can make sense to delay Part B, and it usually depends on what type of health coverage you already have. Part B always costs a monthly premium, but it is different depending on your income and when you decide to apply for Medicare Part B. In 2019, the standard premium amount is $135.50.
4. Decide on coverage.
Okay, you are almost done. The next thing to know about how to apply for Medicare is that there are two main ways that get you Medicare coverage if you want to have both Part A and Part B. One option is to just go with original Medicare. But if you want more out of your Medicare, you can also consider a Medicare Advantage Plan. One of these can help you cover prescription drugs or supplement your existing coverage. If you are still working while thinking about how to apply for Medicare, then you probably need no additional coverage because your employer still covers healthcare for you.
5. Finish the signup.
As mentioned earlier, some people do not need to apply for Medicare. If that is the case for you, all you need to do is wait until your red, white and blue Medicare cards arrive in your mailbox. They will arrive either 3 months before your 65th birthday (as described above) or in the 25th month of disability. If you are already turning 65 soon and have no disability, but the cards did not show up yet, then you need to head over to the website of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and do your application there.
And that is about it! Now you know how to apply for Medicare, just keep in mind that the most important thing is to inform yourself about all the choices you can make. Part A or Part B or both, when to get Part B, if you want an advanced Medicare plan, and so on. As soon as you know what you want, everything else will be easy!