Medicare Application Process
How to Apply for Medicare
There are certain situations in which you may qualify to automatically get Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. If you are automatically enrolled you will receive in the mail your red, white, and blue Medicare card three months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability.
- In most cases if you receive benefits from Social Security of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B beginning the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Medicare Parts A and B will start the first day of the prior month.
- If you are under the age of 65 and have a disability, you will automatically get Medicare Parts A and B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or from the RRB for two years.
- If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) you will automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B the month your disability benefits begin.
- If you live in Puerto Rico and get benefits from Social Security or the RRB you will automatically get Medicare Part A but if you want Medicare Part B as well you will need to sign up for it. You can find the form here.
Signing up for Medicare Parts A and B
If you’re not receiving RRB or Social Security you will need to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B. If you qualify for Medicare because you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you will need to sign up as well. You can find forms for enrolling online here. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Initial Enrollment Questionnaire (IEQ)
When you receive your Medicare card after enrolling in Medicare Part A, you will also get an Initial Enrollment Questionnaire (IEQ). You can also find it at MyMedicare.gov. This brief questionnaire asks about other health insurance you currently have (such as coverage through your employer or spouse’s employer), treatments you have received under liability insurance, or workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. You may return this paper copy of the IEQ through the mail, complete the questionnaire online at MyMedicare.gov, or call the Coordination of Benefits Contractor at 1-800-999-1118 (TTY 1-800-318-8782) to complete it over the phone. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to ask that this form be mailed to you. MyMedicare.gov is a helpful and secure online service which allows you to keep track of your Medicare information and benefits; visit the site to sign up for its services after receiving your Medicare card.
Medicare Advantage Plans, Prescription Drug Plans, & Medicare Supplement Policies
Once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B, three additional options you may consider are Medicare Advantage Part C Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Medicare Part D), and Medicare Supplement Policies (Medigap). Your first option, Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private insurance companies which include all the benefits of Medicare Parts A & B and may include extra benefits like vision, hearing, dental, prescription, and wellness program coverage. In addition to your Medicare Part B premium, you would pay an additional amount in premium for this coverage. Examples of Medicare Advantage Plans are HMOs, PPOs, PFFS plans, MSAs and Special Needs Plans. You may enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan when you first become eligible for Medicare or during the Open Enrollment Period, between October 15-December 7.
Your second option is to add a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan through a private insurer to cover costs of prescription drugs. If you don’t maintain prescription drug coverage without a break of more than sixty-three days or you may be charged a late enrollment penalty added to your Medicare Part D plan premium.
Your third option is to add a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan. Medicare Supplement does not change or add to your Medicare benefits, but rather is a private insurance plan meant to help fill in some of the gaps in payment left by Medicare Parts A & B, such as co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles for an additional monthly premium. You may enroll in a Medigap plan during the six month Medigap open enrollment period. This period begins the month you turn 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B Insurance. You can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems, during this period. After this enrollment period you may not be able to purchase a Medigap policy and if you can, it may cost more. There are some situations that you may be eligible to purchase a Medigap policy outside of the Medigap open enrollment period. Find more about these situations at medicare.gov.