Medicare Enrollment

Healthcare Writer

Updated on July 17th, 2024

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Overview

Medicare is a health insurance program from the federal government mainly for individuals 65 and older, but also for some younger individuals with disabilities or specific conditions like ALS or end-stage renal disease. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) runs it, helping cover various healthcare needs—though it doesn’t cover everything, like all medical costs or long-term care.

How to Sign Up:

You can enroll online, over the phone, or in person at a Social Security office. There’s a 7-month window to sign up, starting 3 months before you turn 65, your birthday month, and ending 3 months after. If you’re still working and have insurance through your job, you might qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to sign up later without a penalty.

Who Can Get It?

If you’re hitting age 65 soon, you’re likely eligible. If you’re already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you’ll be signed up automatically. If not, especially if you don’t have health insurance through work, you’ll need to sign up around your 65th birthday. People with certain disabilities might qualify earlier, so it’s a good idea to talk to the Social Security office to find out.

What’s the Cost?

Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) is usually free if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for 10 years. Part B (doctor visits and medical services) has a monthly cost (premium). Prices change year to year, so knowing what each part covers and any fees is key.

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Next Steps

As you approach 65, ensure you understand Medicare eligibility and enrollment processes. Enroll online, by phone, or at a Social Security office within your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to avoid penalties. If you have job-based insurance, check if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Review the costs and coverage of Medicare Parts A and B, and consider additional benefits through Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Prescription Drug Plans (Part D). Taking these steps will help secure your health coverage effectively.

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