Enrolling in Medicare is simple and often automatic. Follow these four steps to learn what you should do:
- Step 1: Find out if you need to sign up for Medicare Part A or B.
- Step 2: Decide if you want Medicare Part B benefits.
- Step 3: Decide if you want extra coverage with Medicare.
- Step 4: Decide if you want Medicare Part D, Prescription Drug Coverage.
First Step to Enrolling in Medicare
Medicare is for people age 65 or older, and for those who are disabled or are on kidney dialysis. Medicare Part A covers hospital stays and other inpatient services. Part B covers physician and other outpatient services.
If you currently get Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments:
- You will be enrolled in Medicare Part A & B automatically on the first day of the month of your 65th birthday. For example, if you turn 65 on May 15, you are enrolled on May 1.
- Your Medicare card should come in the mail three months prior to your 65th birthday. If you do not receive your card, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
If you do not draw Social Security or Railroad Retirement payments:
- You must sign up to get Medicare benefits.
- To sign up, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
- You can also apply in person at your local Social Security office.
- You cannot apply online for Medicare alone.
To sign up for both Medicare and Social Security retirement benefits:
- You can apply online here.
- Or call 1-800-772-1213.
- Or visit your local Social Security office.
Step 2 for Enrolling in Medicare
If you qualify for Social Security benefits, you do not pay for Medicare Part A coverage. Therefore, you should definitely sign up for Part A.
Everyone pays a monthly fee for Medicare Part B insurance, which is usually taken out of your Social Security payment. Most people will pay the standard premium amount. However, if your modified adjusted gross income -- as reported on your IRS tax return from two years ago -- is above a certain amount, you may pay more. Social Security will notify you if you have to pay more than the standard premium.
Your Part B premium may be higher if you didn't sign up for Part B when you first became eligible. The 2012 Part B premium is $99.90. You may choose not to participate in Medicare Part B insurance, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient medical services.
If you are still working and you are covered under your union or employer's health insurance -- or if you are covered under your spouse's employee health insurance -- Medicare Part B is not necessary. However, if you have retiree health insurance, you will need Medicare Part B. If you do not want Part B, you must opt out.