This page provides an overview of information on Original Medicare (referred to as Medicare). Let us help you understand who qualifies for Medicare and how you can enroll in a plan that meets your lifestyle, priorities and health needs.
You can enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, which begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birthday month. You may be able to enroll outside of your initial enrollment period if you have a qualifying event.
It’s important to know that there may be penalties if you do not enroll. If you decide to delay enrollment, you may have to pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty.
Please know that Medicare is the primary coverage in certain situations. If you qualify for Medicare Part B, but do not enroll when Medicare is the primary coverage, an employer health plan may not pay for a covered expense that Medicare Part B covers.
For example, this may affect you if you have one of the following types of coverage: individual, a group plan with fewer than 20 employees, domestic partner, COBRA or retiree. This also applies if you are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, and your employer has fewer than 100 employees.
If one of these situations applies and you do not have Medicare Part B, your plan could reduce the amount paid by the amount Medicare Part B would pay, and you would need to pay the amount due.
Original Medicare is also called Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital insurance. Part B is medical insurance. You can sign up for Part A and Part B during the initial enrollment period. Most people should enroll in Part A at this time. You can delay enrolling in Part A and Part B, but you may have to pay a higher premium.
To sign up for Part A and Part B, you will need to contact the Social Security office. You can apply online at ssa.gov. You can also visit a local office.
Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as Original Medicare and more. In addition to what Original Medicare covers, Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra benefits, including pharmacy, vision, dental, hearing, gym memberships, wellness resources and discounts.
To search for and enroll in Part C plans, you can visit medicare.gov. You can also contact private insurers directly.
Getting Part D — prescription drug coverage
If you have already enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A or Part B, you will need to decide whether or not you would like prescription drug coverage. Prescription drug coverage is also known as Part D.
If you would like Part D, you will need to get it from a private insurer. Each has its own formulary (list of covered drugs) and related costs. Private insurers can provide you with a standalone prescription drug plan. You can also get prescription drug coverage as part of a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you know you will need Part D, it’s best to get it during your initial enrollment period to avoid a late penalty. If you did not enroll in Part D during your initial enrollment period, you can enroll during the annual enrollment period, which is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
When considering a Medicare plan, it’s important to understand how it works and what your options are to get the right plan for you. Learn more about Medicare
Last updated Oct. 1, 2023
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