How much do Americans spend on health care?
Back in 1984, routine health care cost about $2,500 for each member of your household. However, today that number doubled to a whopping $5,000 per person, and that’s just for routine procedures. If you have a special medical condition, your annual health care costs can easily wind up being quadruple that amount, or more.
Thankfully, as you reach the age of 65, you may be able to qualify for Medicare. If you’re wondering how to enroll in Medicare, then this article’s for you. We’ll review the different parts of Medicare coverage, as well as the right times to enroll to avoid penalty fees.
Read on to learn how to apply for Medicare, the right way.
Different Parts of Medicare Plans
Medicare is a type of health insurance for people over the age of 65. In some cases, individuals under the age of 65 can receive medicare, if they have certain disabilities. However, before you can enroll in Medicare, you’ll need to clearly understand the different parts.
Medicare Part A
What does part A do? Part A will help cover all of your inpatient expenses at hospitals. Part A also helps provide coverage to nursing facilities, hospice, and home health care. There are specific requirements you’ll have to meet to qualify for part A.
Typically, you’re eligible for part A if you’re 65 or older and meet the residency and citizenship criteria.
You can also qualify if you already receive disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, for at least 25 months. The best part is you don’t have to pay any type of monthly premium for part A coverage. Provided that you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for 10 years or more while working. If you don’t qualify for free part A, you can pay for it instead.
Medicare Part B
How will part B help you out? Part B is the coverage that helps pay for medical services, like seeing a doctor. You can also use part B coverage to handle preventative services. Part B is an optional coverage unless you don’t qualify for free part A. If you have to pay for part A, you’re automatically required to buy part B as well.
You have 2 options when it comes time to sign up for Medicare. First, you can click here to apply online using a government secured website. However, if you want to talk to a person, you can also apply by calling the Social Security department. The number for Social Security is 1-800-772-1213. For TTY users you can call 1-800-325-0778.
We understand that it can be a bit tricky to understand the eligibility requirements and types of coverage. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. If at any point you’re having difficulty navigating the different types of coverage, reach out for free medicare help. When you reach out request a free consultation and quote for all of the coverages you’ll need.
Initial Medicare Enrollment
The initial enrollment period is 7 months long, and it begins when you qualify for Medicare. The 7-month long period begins 3 months before you turn 65, your birthday month, and the next 3 months following.
For instance, let’s say you’re eligible for coverage and you’re about to turn 65 in December. The initial enrollment period would start in September (3 months before your birthday month).
The enrollment period would include your birthday month, and you’d have January, February, and March. You can sign up for Medicare part A anytime after the initial enrollment period begins. Part A coverage will then start 6 months back from the date of your application.
Special Medicare Enrollment
When you’re initial enrollment period ends, you still have a chance to sign up for coverages during the special enrollment period. However, you’ll have to meet a very specific list of criteria.
For instance, let’s say you’re covered by a group health plan through your job or your spouse’s job. Having current coverage qualifies you for the special enrollment period. However, you’ll need to sign up for parts A and B, before your current coverage runs out.
General Medicare Enrollment
Moving on, let’s look at what it takes for enrolling in Medicare during the general enrollment period. Let’s say you didn’t sign up for part A or B when you first became eligible, and you don’t qualify for special enrollment.
In this case, you may have to wait until the end of the general enrollment period before you can consider applying.
The general enrollment period runs from January through March 31st.
Once you do enroll, you’ll have to wait until July 1st before your coverages kick in. You can also expect to pay a late enrollment penalty for both part A and part B.
Late Enrollment Penalty
If you’re receiving part A coverage for free, it’s okay if you enroll after you first become eligible. However, if you’re paying for part A coverage, there is a penalty if you don’t buy it when you’re first eligible.
Next, part B coverage has an automatic penalty if you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible. Being late also means you’ll also have to wait until the next general enrollment period before you can apply for part B coverage.
The amount of the late enrollment penalty will depend on how long you waited to enroll. The sooner you enroll, the less the penalty will be. Of course, you can also avoid the penalty altogether by enrolling the minute you’re eligible.
Confidently Enroll in Medicare
Now you know all about applying for Medicare. Remember, to enroll in Medicare without paying any penalties, you’ll need to apply during the initial enrollment period. However, don’t wait until the last month of your 7-month window. Instead, we suggest applying for Medicare the second your initial enrollment period begins.
Are you still worried about making a mistake on the application, or applying for the wrong coverages? Reach out to a Medicare insurance agent in your state for a free consultation.
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