We talk a lot about Medicare Supplemental insurance, which is great, but today, we want to take some time to touch on Medicare itself and how you go about getting Medicare coverage lined up.
First and foremost, let’s understand when you get Medicare. Medicare (except in the case of being on Medicare disability) begins the first day of the month in which you turn 65. For example, if your birthday is 3/3/47, your Medicare will start on 3/1/12. The one exception to this is if your birthday happens to fall on the 1st day of a month. In this case, your Medicare start date will be the 1st day of the preceding month. For example, if your birthday is 4/1/47, your Medicare start date will also be 3/1/12.
There are a couple of instances to consider when looking at how you sign up for Medicare. First, let’s look at the more common instance, the one in which you are already receiving Social Security. In this case, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare A & B without the need for an additional application. You will typically receive a welcome packet and red, white and blue Medicare card approximately 2-3 months before your Medicare starts.
Because you will be automatically signed up for Medicare A & B, and Part B does have a premium associated with it, you will have to proactively “turn it down” (following the instructions in the welcome packet) if you do not want it. For example, if you are covered through a comprehensive employer plan and Medicare will not be your primary coverage, you may wish to turn down Medicare Part B to save the approximately $100/month that it costs.
If, however, you are NOT receiving Social Security already, it is advisable to sign up for Medicare at a local Social Security office or by calling 800.772.1213. Or you can sign up online through Social Security at the following link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html#part2. That link actually links to an information page about Social Security/Medicare, but there are also enrollment instructions/application on there.
It is recommended, if you need to go this route, that you do it at least two months before your Medicare would start. It does take some time for Medicare to process the enrollment and for you to get your Medicare card in the mail. Also, if you are planning on signing up for a supplement plan, this is something that you need to take care of prior to enrolling in that type of plan.
If you have any questions about this process or about Medicare in general, you can contact us on our website – Medicare-supplement.US – or at toll-free 877.506.3378.