In the United States, Medicare is the healthcare insurance plan administered by the government for persons over 65 and persons with disabilities. People with end stage renal disease or amytrophic lateral sclerosis can also be covered under Medicare, regardless of their age. You can sign up for Medicare through the U.S. Department of Social Security. Medicare consists of four parts that you will need to enroll specifically for.
1. Check to make sure that you are eligible for Medicare. In order to be eligible to receive Medicare in the United States, you will need be at least 65 years old, a citizen or permanent resident of the United States and have paid into Social Security through your employment for at least 10 years.
2. Learn about the different parts of Medicare.
- Part A is hospital insurance, which covers hospital, hospice or skilled nursing facility (for rehab purposes) care.
- Part B is medical insurance which covers medical services, such as doctor visits, outpatient services, occupational or physical therapy and some home health care. Medical supplies are also covered under Part B if they are medically necessary.
- Part C is the Medicare Advantage Plan that offers healthcare insurance plans through private insurance companies such as Medicare Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO), Medicare Private Fee for Service plans (PFFS), Medicare Preferred Provider Organization or Medicare Special Needs plan.
- Part D is the Medicare prescription drug plan.
Enrolling for Parts A and B
1. Apply for Social Security benefits. When you apply for Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B as soon as you turn 65. You can apply for Social Security by visiting your local Social Security office or visiting the website.
2. Look for your Medicare card that will be mailed to you 3 months before you turn 65.
3. Know your enrollment periods. There are 3 enrollment periods for when you can sign up for Medicare Part B.
- The initial enrollment period is the period from 3 months before your 65th birthday to 4 months after your 65th birthday.
- The general enrollment period starts every year from January 1 to March 31 for people who did not sign up during the initial enrollment period. It is important to note that your monthly premiums go up each year that you become eligible for Medicare, but did not enroll.
- The special enrollment period is for persons over 65 who are still covered under another group health plan. This means that you can delay Medicare Part B enrollment without the premium increases for late enrollment. The special enrollment period is anytime you are still covered under a group health plan or 8 months after your group coverage plan has ended.
Enrolling for Part C
1. Learn about Medicare Advantage plans and compare plans.
2. Choose a Medicare Advantage plan.
3. Enroll during the right times.
- During your initial enrollment period for Medicare.
- Between November 15-December 31 each year.
- The open enrollment period between January 1- March 31 each year, as long as you are not changing to or from a plan that has prescription drug coverage unless you already have Medicare Part D.
Enrolling for Part D
1. Consider the medications you are taking.
2. Review the Medicare Part D plans and their costs.
3. Enroll in Medicare Part D at the right times.
- When you become eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B.
- Between November 15 – December 31 each year.