Are you interested in learning about how to apply for Medicare? We know it can seem a little overwhelming at first, but with just a little bit of information and guidance, it’s not so difficult. We promise! In this quick article, we’ll give you a simple overview, break down the essential steps for how to apply for Medicare, and then walk you through a few options you might like to consider.
The Parts of Medicare
Before we dive into how to apply for Medicare, you should know a bit about how Medicare is structured. You may have noticed that Medicare consists of four parts: Parts A, B, C, and D. The Medicare website offers this overview of what each of these parts mean, but in a nutshell:
- Medicare Part A refers to hospital insurance.
- Medicare Part B is your medical insurance (including health professional consultation, medical tests, and long-term preventive care). Parts A and B combined are sometimes referred to as Original Medicare.
- Medicare Part D covers prescription drug coverage.
- Medicare Part C is an all in one alternative to basic Medicare. It’s a bundle of Medicare parts A, B and D. You may also see Part C referred to as Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Advantage Plan.
You have a seven-month window in which you can apply for Medicare. This period commences three months before your 65 birthday, includes your birthday month, and ends three months after your 65 birthday.
How to Apply for Original Medicare
If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, you’re automatically enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare. A Medicare card and all relevant details on how to use it will be mailed to you prior to your 65th birthday.
But what if you’re still working and not receiving Social Security benefits? You can nevertheless sign up for Medicare at any Social Security office or online.
You may also want to bear in mind that, even if you’re getting health care coverage from your or your spouse’s employer, you can still apply for Medicare Part A to offset costs your current health plan doesn’t cover.
To complete your Medicare application, you’ll need your Social Security card, your original birth certificate, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a copy of your W2 form.
Looking for Extra Protection?
If you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage — including prescription drugs, dental, vision, and hearing aids — you’ll want to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. This requires signing up through a private, Medicare-approved insurance company. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not offer Medicare Advantage plans directly.
To learn more about how to apply for Medicare to take advantage of these additional coverage features, take a look at Anthem’s Medicare application guide. Here you’ll find all the information you need to determine eligibility, understand the process, and shop for a plan that best fits your needs.
Medicare Made Simple
Knowing how to apply for Medicare begins with understanding how Medicare is structured. Once you have that knowledge down, your most important decision is how comprehensive you need your coverage to be. Finally, if you decide Medicare Advantage is for you, it pays to shop around for a plan that best fits your health needs and your budget.
Complete those steps, and you’re well on your way for quality Medicare coverage.