You have a few options as you approach your Medicare enrollment. For some, this will be automatic, but for others, it will depend on a few factors.
Within 3-6 months of turning 65, you should receive a large envelope from the Social Security Administration with information about your Medicare Part A & Part B coverage. Within this envelope, you’ll find a thicker sheet of paper which includes your Medicare ID card on one corner of the page. It has perforated edges to allow you to detach it from the page. It is thick stock paper and is your permanent ID. You will not receive a plastic ID card.
Will I Be Automatically Enrolled in Medicare?
If you worked at least 40 quarters in the United States, you should automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital) insurance. Your card should reflect your Medicare Part A start date as the 1st of the month in which you turn 65. If you were born on the first of the month, the start date will be the first of the month prior to your birthday.
Medicare Part B (Outpatient) insurance is elective coverage. So, you don’t need to take the coverage if you prefer not to do so. Though, it makes sense if you would like to have coverage for medical services received outside of a hospital setting. Over 90% of Medicare beneficiaries opt to take Part B (source). It’s important to note that if you wait to enroll in Part B, your premium could be 10% higher for every 12-month period that you were eligible for Part B but did not sign up.
If you are already enrolled in and are receiving Social Security income benefits prior to turning 65, you should automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part B and your card should reflect this. If you want to stay enrolled in Medicare Part A & Part B and your card reflects a start date for both, you do not have to do anything else other than consider a Medicare supplement plan and a Medicare Part D drug plan.
What If I Don’t Want Medicare Part B?
If you decide you do not want Medicare Part B, you should also have instructions to send the ID card back to opt out. If you send the card back, you will receive a new ID card within a few weeks of reflecting that you are enrolled in Medicare part A only. Keep in mind that if you have no creditable medical coverage (not counting Medicare Part A) and opt out of Medicare Part B, you will have financial penalties (discussed later in this guide) if you decide to pick up Part B at a later time.
One of the common reasons one might return their card and opt out of Medicare Part B is if they are currently employed and have creditable health coverage through their employer. If you intend to stay employed and keep employer coverage, check with your HR department to ensure you have creditable health coverage before you opt out of Medicare Part B.
Enrolling in Part B If You Aren’t Automatically Enrolled
If you have not begun receiving Social Security benefits prior to turning 65, you will likely have to enroll in Medicare Part B proactively. The reason is that receiving Social Security benefits provides Medicare with a source of income from which they can deduct your Medicare Part B premium.
If you are not receiving Social Security income, you’ll want to enroll in Medicare Part B within three months prior to the month in which you turn 65. You also have the month in which your turn 65 and the three months following to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty (unless you have creditable health coverage elsewhere). So, you have a seven month window to enroll in Medicare Part B.
How to Enroll in Medicare Part B
There are 3 options for enrolling in Medicare Part B if not automatically enrolled:
- By calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-0778), Monday through Friday,
If you haven’t started receiving Social Security benefits, you must also make monthly payments. You’ll get a monthly bill called a “Notice of Medicare Premium Payment Due.” There are 4 ways you can pay your Medicare Part B premium:
- Pay directly from your bank account using your bank’s online bill payment system.
- Sign up for Medicare Easy Pay, a free service that automatically deducts premium payments from your bank account each month, usually on the 20th of the month.
- Mail your Medicare payment coupon and payment to:
Medicare Premium Collection Center
P.O. Box 790355
St. Lousi, MO 63179-0355
- Pay by credit card or debit card. Complete the bottom portion of the payment coupon on your Medicare bill, and sign it. You’ll need to provide the account information as it appears on your card and the expiration date. Most credit cards today only have the month and year in the expiration date field. If your credit card only has a month and year in the expiration date, fill in the month and year on the payment coupon and leave the day field blank. Mail your payment to the address above.
If you have any questions regarding your Medicare eligibility or application, please call to speak with a GoMedigap agent at (866) 894-3258, Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm CST.
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