Access to the program should be automatic if you’re 65 and currently receiving Social Security benefits (or Rail Road benefits), you should receive a package, with your Medicare card in it, in the mail about 3 months before your coverage starts, but if you are not currently receiving benefits you will need to actively enroll in Medicare. To actively enroll you may visit your local Social Security office, call Social Security @ 800-772-1213 or apply online at ssa.gov. Railroad retirees must call must contact the Railroad Retirement Board I(RRB) or contact your local RRB field office to enroll.
Eligibility and sign up periods
If you’re eligible, your Medicare sign up period begins three months prior to your 65 th birthday month and ends three months after you turn 65. It is important to note that if you wait too long – the month you turn 65 or the three months after – your enrollment in Part B may be delayed. This would force you to pay a late enrollment penalty.
Medicare Part A
Many people sign up for Part A (Hospital) when they are first eligible. If you’re still working and have health coverage through your employer, you may be able to delay enrollment without a penalty. Part A covers things such as inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facilities, and certain home health care services, including hospice. If you or your spouse have paid Medicare taxes for at least a decade, you usually won’t pay a monthly premium for this coverage. Certain conditions must be met to get Part A benefits, such as age (65 and older), citizenship, and residency requirements. If you aren’t eligible for free Part A, you can buy it, but you must also sign up for Part B and pay premiums on both.
Medicare Part B
Part B (Medical Insurance) covers an array of other services that Part A does not. These include outpatient care, certain doctors’ visits, medical supplies, and preventive care. You will pay the standard premium for Part B each month, and that amount can change yearly. It may also depend on if you signed up when you were first eligible or not. In many cases, if you do not sign up for Part B at the first opportunity, you will incur a late enrollment penalty unless you have credible coverage such as an employer insurance. If you get Social Security benefits, the premiums for Part B will be automatically deducted from your payment. If not, you will most likely have to pay quarterly.
Navigating the details of Medicare plans can be challenging, but Senior Watchdog is here to help get you on the right path.
For more information or any questions on which options are best for you, visit our website or call us at 815-223-9394.
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