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Applying For Medicare Made Simple

Signing up for Medicare may look hard, but it’s actually easy. We help thousands every year with it.

If you’re almost 65, you can start applying 3 months before your 65th birthday. It’s good to start early so you have your Medicare card when you need it. When you first get Medicare, you can sign up for both Part A and Part B. This is also the time to think about Part D for prescription drugs, which isn’t covered by regular Medicare.

Parts Of Medicare

Part A

Medicare Part A covers your hospital stays, offering cost-effective inpatient care. But what exactly does inpatient mean?

We explain to our clients that it's like having "room and board" in a hospital. This means it includes a semi-private room with a bed for you and all your meals during your stay. It also covers medications provided by the hospital, along with any required lab services or medical supplies.

Part B

Medicare Part B covers a range of outpatient medical services, including preventive care like flu shots and screenings, doctor's visits, lab tests, ambulance, and more. It also covers certain hospital services like surgeries, chemotherapy, and medical equipment.

While Part B is optional, it's essential if Medicare is your primary insurance and is required for Medigap supplemental coverage.

Part C

Medicare Part C, known as Medicare Advantage (MA), is an alternative to traditional Medicare offered by private companies. These plans combine Part A, Part B, and usually Part D into one.

Similar to group insurance from past jobs, MA plans often have a local network of providers and involve copays for services like doctor visits and hospital stays. While optional, these plans are a choice for those seeking a bundled Medicare option.

Part D

Medicare Part D is a federal program offering affordable copays for prescription drugs that you pick up from retail pharmacies. It's a voluntary option that helps make medications more affordable and provides protection against extremely high drug costs.

Enrollment in Medicare Part D isn't through Social Security. Instead, you select a plan from a private insurance company available in your state.

Who Is EligIble For Medicare?

Who is qualified to receive Medicare, and at what point does one become eligible? Generally, Medicare eligibility starts at 65 years of age. Additionally, individuals who have received Social Security disability benefits for a minimum of 24 months are also eligible.

Medicare does not have a designated retirement age. The standard age for Medicare eligibility is 65, regardless of whether an individual has retired. Eligibility for Medicare at 65 or older is granted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years. Additionally, individuals under 65 can qualify for Medicare in the following situations:

  • If they are permanently disabled and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 24 months.
  • If they suffer from end-stage renal disease, necessitating dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • If they have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.


Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period spans 7 months, allowing first-time enrollment in Parts A and B when turning 65. This period includes 3 months before, the month of, and 3 months after your 65th birthday. Enrolling in the 3 months following your birth month delays coverage. This 7-month window also applies for enrolling in Medicare Advantage or Part D plans. Read More

Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)

The Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare runs from October 15th to December 7th each year. During this time, those with Medicare Part A and B can enroll in, switch, or opt out of a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

The General Enrollment Period (GEP) is available for enrolling in Medicare Part A and/or Part B if you didn't sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and aren't eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. This period starts January 1 and ends March 31 each year, with coverage commencing on day 1 of the month following your application.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP)

This enrollment period allows beneficiaries with a Medicare Advantage plan to make changes. From January 1 to March 31, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or opt for Original Medicare and add a Part D plan.

Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

A Special Enrollment Period is available for beneficiaries experiencing a qualifying event. For instance, if you postponed Medicare enrollment past age 65 because of creditable coverage from active employment, you can use this period to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B. Additionally, there are Special Election Periods (SEP) for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. In the event of a qualifying situation, you'll have a 2-month period to enroll in either a Medicare Advantage or Part D.

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

When you initially sign up for Medicare Part B, there's a 12-month period centered around your Part B effective date — extending 6 months before and 6 months after — during which you can join a Medigap plan without undergoing health screening. However, if you miss this window and don't have a qualifying event, you might be required to answer health-related questions to enroll in a Medigap plan.

Get a free personalized Medicare plan comparison from Top National Carriers.


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