Original Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people aged 65 or older. Medicare is also available to people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of any age with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
The program helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.
Most people who qualify for Medicare will want to enroll in both Part A (Hospital) and Part B (General Medical). Part B will cost you a monthly premium that varies based on your income. Learn what Medicare covers here.
Check Your Situation Below
I am almost 65
There is no fee to sign up for Medicare Part A (for most people). Anyone who files for Social Security (SS) benefits at the age of 62 is automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A at the age of 65. If you fall under this category, you will still want to apply for Part B if you haven’t done so yet (see Part B below).
If you are almost 65 and haven’t filed for SS benefits, you should apply for Medicare Part A 3 months before your 65th birthday, even if you plan to continue working past age 65.
This means you can set up your Medicare benefits even if you don’t want to start your SS benefits. By signing up for Medicare Part A before you turn 65, your Medicare coverage will start the first day of the month you turn age 65.
Medicare Part B helps cover preventive and medically necessary fees at the doctor office. Part B charges you a monthly fee. Almost everyone will want to sign up for Part B unless hospital coverage is provided by another source like work.
I have already turned 65
PART A: If you did not sign up for Medicare Part A before you turned 65, it’s not too late. If you sign up for Part A after you turn age 65, your Part A start date can be made retroactive for up to 6 months.
PART B: Your initial enrollment period for Part B starts 3 months before you turn age 65 and lasts for 7 months.
If you fall within the age range above, click on the link below to enroll online. If you are older than the age range above, you cannot sign up for Part B online.
I am under 65 but qualify for Medicare
If you’re under 65 and qualify for Medicare due to disability or End-Stage Renal Disease you will have to enroll yourself in Original Medicare. However, in some cases you may automatically be enrolled (such as being on Social Security for disability for 24 months). Check with CMS to see if you qualify.
Check our updated article on Under 65 Medigap State Rules!
I want to keep my current health insurance
Even if you have existing heath coverage from an employer you should still go ahead and sign up for Part A.
If you are still working and have health insurance through a 20+ employee company, you may want to hold off on signing up for Medicare Part B. The benefits may be of limited value to you as long as the group health plan is the primary payer of your medical bills. Also if you activate your Part B now, you would be starting your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period during a time when it will not be of most use to you.
If your employer is charging you a fee for your coverage, you should compare it to the fees and benefits of Medicare before making a decision. The Medicare Part B “premium” varies by income and changes each year but most people pay $144.60.
Please Note: You should talk to your employee health benefits administrator before making any decision not to take Medicare Part B. If your employer has less than 20 employees, Medicare is the primary payer and your group health insurance would be the secondary payer. People in small companies should sign up for Medicare Part B.
Enroll in Medicare
I have already signed up for Medicare
Congratulations. You have already jumped the biggest hurdle of senior health coverage. You are now ready to research and purchase a federally regulated Medigap plan.
Remember: After you have signed up for Medicare Part B, you have only 6 months to sign up for a Medigap plan without going through a health review. Click on the Medigap link below to get started.
I’m interested in Medicare Advantage or Medigap
Before you select a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap plan you must first sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B.
As a reminder, Medicare Advantage plans are plans offered by private companies that, by law, must offer equivalent benefits offered in Medicare Part A and Part B. So basically by selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, you are choosing to have a private company manage your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits. Often times there is a monthly fee to select a Medicare Advantage plan and providers will sometimes offer additional benefits such as drug coverage or dental. Medicare Advantage plans tend to have a smaller network of doctors.
Medigap plans are Medicare supplemental coverage that are designed to fill in the “gap” areas when Original Medicare offers partial or no coverage. Medigap plans can pay for deductibles, copays and additional hospital days that are not covered under Original Medicare. Any doctor who accepts your Medicare will also accept Medigap.
Medigap works “in addition” to Original Medicare, whereas Medicare Advantage replaces Original Medicare. Both require you to sign up for Medicare A and B first. Here you can learn more about Medicare Advantage vs Medigap.
If you specific questions about this, please contact a licensed agent at 800-930-7956 x3
None of the Above
There are some unique issues that are not covered in our overview. If you have specific Medicare issue, we suggest you contact medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227. If your question how Medicare and Medicare Insurance works, please call us at 1-800-930-7956 x3.