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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Enrolling in Medicare

Enrolling in Medicare is simple and often automatic. Follow these four steps to learn what you should do:


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.

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