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You have a few options as you approach your Medicare enrollment. For some, this will be automatic. For others, it will depend on a few factors.
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) are called Original Medicare. When you turn 65, Medicare becomes your primary insurance. This is why it is important to complete enrollment as soon as possible. In the months before your 65th birthday, you should receive a large envelope from the Social Security office. This envelope will include papers describing Medicare, as well as your Medicare ID card. Take care of this card, as it is thick stock paper. You will not receive a plastic ID card.
Will I Be Automatically Enrolled in Medicare?
Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A. This happens if you or your spouse worked at least 40 quarters in the United States (10 years). During these 10 years, because you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes, you will not have to pay a monthly premium for Part A. If you already receive retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will also receive a premium-free Part A. In the event that you receive Part A for free, you will not have to pay a Part A enrollment penalty if you enroll after your initial seven-month enrollment period.
Others are not automatically enrolled in Part A. If you are not, you may be eligible to purchase Part A coverage if you:
- Are 65 or older and you have enrolled in Medicare Part B
- Are under 65, disabled, and your Part A coverage expired because you returned to work
If you have to purchase Part A, you must pay a monthly premium for both Part A and Part B. If you do not receive a premium-free Part A and you do not enroll when you are first eligible, your monthly premium will increase for each year you do not enroll.
What About Medicare Part B?
It is possible that you may not be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B. This is likely if you have not begun receiving Social Security benefits prior to turning 65. In this case, you will proactively need to sign up for Part B.
Medicare Part B requires a monthly premium. If you enroll in Part B when you are first eligible, you will only have to pay the standard premium amount. This amount is $135.50 in 2019. If you do not sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you will be subject to pay late enrollment penalties for the duration of your time having Part B. You also cannot add the Part B plan until General Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31) if you wait beyond your initial enrollment period.
While most people pay the standard $135.50 monthly premium for Part B, costs may increase depending on your previous yearly income. For example, if your yearly income two years ago was above $85,000 and up to $107,000, you would have to pay a monthly premium of $189.60. The costs continue to increase as the yearly income increases. If you have any questions about your Part B premium, Social Security can answer them. You can contact Social Security at 1-(800) 772-1213. TTY users 1-(800) 325-0778.
What If I Don’t Want Medicare Part B?
You may decide to opt out of Medicare Part B or delay enrollment if you are currently working and receiving coverage through your employer. Part B is completely your choice, but you are strongly encouraged to enroll. Medicare might help pay for costs that are not covered by your employer.
If you do decide to delay your Part B coverage because you are still working, you have a short window to enroll in Part B without penalty. This window lasts eight months after your employer coverage ends.
If you decide to opt out, the packet you received from Social Security also includes instructions on how to send the ID card back. If you do this, you will receive a new card that states you are enrolled in Medicare Part A only.
When Can I Sign Up for Part A & B?
You are eligible to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65. We encourage you to sign up as early as possible to avoid any delay in coverage. If you want to receive coverage by the month you turn 65, it is imperative that you sign up during the three-month period before you turn 65. If you wait until the month of, or the three months after your 65th birthday, you will receive delayed coverage.
How GoMedigap Can Help
If you have any questions regarding your Medicare eligibility or application, please call to speak with a GoMedigap agent at (800) 310-2550, Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm CST. We can guide you through the process, offer support, and answer any questions you may have.