Our free Medicare seminar is coming up next week on Thursday, September 14th. If the Medicare alphabet soup has you spelling "H.E.L.P." and you're looking for more information, the Social Security website has some great resources for understanding Medicare. So here's some of the basics:
Medicare has four parts
- Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay). Part A also pays for some home health care, and hospice care.
- Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B. Some plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) and other extra benefits and services.
- Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) helps cover the cost of prescription drugs.
A word about Medicaid
You may think Medicaid and Medicare are the same, but they’re two different programs. Medicaid is a state-run program that provides hospital and medical coverage for people with low income. Each state has its own rules about who’s eligible, and what Medicaid covers. Some people qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. For more information about the Medicaid program, contact your local medical assistance agency or social services office.
Applying for Medicare
If you’re already getting Social Security benefits we’ll send you information a few months before you become eligible for Medicare and we’ll automatically enroll you in Medicare Parts A and B. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can choose to turn it down.
If you’re not already getting benefits, you should contact Social Security to apply. When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.
If you’re eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period” from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll. Click here for more information: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf
How To Apply Online For Just Medicare
You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail.
For more information about applying for Medicare only and delaying retirement benefits, visit Applying for Medicare Only – Before You Decide.
Contacting Social Security
There are several ways to contact Social Security, including online, by phone, and in person.
Visit our website
The most convenient way to conduct Social Security business from anywhere at any time, is to visit www.socialsecurity.gov. There, you can:
- Create a my Social Security account to review your Social Security Statement, verify your earnings, print a benefit verification letter, change your direct deposit information, request a replacement Medicare card, get a replacement 1099/1042S, and more;
- Apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs;
- Apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits;
- Find copies of our publications;
- Get answers to frequently asked questions; and
- So much more!
If you don’t have access to the internet, we offer many automated services by telephone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you’re deaf or hard of hearing.
If you need to speak to a person, we can answer your calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We ask for your patience during busy periods since you may experience a higher than usual rate of busy signals and longer hold times to speak to us. We look forward to serving you.