The US government doesn't provide health insurance to the entire population because it lacks a national health insurance system. There are only three government-backed health insurance programs in the US: the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, and Medicare. This guide focuses on how to apply for Medicare.
What is Medicare?
Medicare is a public health insurance program that was launched in 1966. It provides health coverage for US citizens 65 years or older and younger people with specific disabilities like ALS or last-stage renal disease. The program has four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.
How Do You Obtain Medicare?
Applications for Medicare take place in two steps. The first step is applying through the Social Security Administration (SSA) to confirm eligibility. The second step is to pick the coverage of your choice and apply for Medicare coverage from private insurers.
You can apply online by visiting the SSA portal to start your new Medicare application or by phone by calling the SSA line at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778. You can also apply by visiting an SSA office in person.
The application process doesn't require documentation, and there's no paperwork. When you apply online, the forms will adjust automatically depending on your answers to the previous questions.
Before you begin:
- Find out whether you are eligible.
- Confirm your initial registration period to know when to apply.
- Gather all the information you need.
How Do You Apply for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)?
- Visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) Portal.
- Agree to the service terms.
- Start your application.
- Answer the questions accurately.
- Create or log into your Social Security account, or verify your ID with ID.me or Login.gov.
Remember that it's on your social security account when you apply for Medicare. The way your Medicare.gov account will look depends on the plans you choose. Other accounts, like ID.me or Login.gov, are verification accounts. Login.gov will require your personal information like gender, date of birth, Social Security number, and name to confirm your identity. Finally, review your information and correct errors before submitting your application.
How Do You Apply for Medicare if You Are Above 65 and Still Working?
If your employer provides a group insurance plan, you can apply for Medicare when you turn 65 but defer signing up for any insurance coverage with a monthly premium.
- Enroll in Part A of Medicare at 65.
- Defer signing up for Part B to avoid monthly payments.
- If your employer doesn't have more than 20 employees, find out whether you can sign up for Part B later.
- Avoid Medigap and Medicare Advantage at this time.
- Confirm if the prescription drug program is under "creditable drug coverage" to allow you to defer Part D without penalties.
- Apply for Medicare Part B once you retire and lose your medical coverage.
How Do You Apply for Medicare Part D?
- Visit Medicare.gov and create an account using your Medicare number.
- Provide all the required information. What you enter on Medicare.gov must match the information you provided to the Social Security Administration.
- Create a password and username.
- Choose between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage for Medicare Part D and Medigap.
- Apply for the plan you have chosen.