If you have other insurance plan options such as retirement plans, union coverage, military coverage, etc, call your plan administrator to learn how your plan may work with Medicare.
When Can You Sign Up for Part A (If You're Not Enrolled Automatically)?
If you aren’t getting Social Security or RRB (Railroad Retirement Board) benefits (for instance, because you are still working), you will need to sign up for Part A. You will need to sign up even if you are eligible for premium-free Part A. You should contact Social Security 3 months before you turn age 65.
If you worked for a railroad, contact the RRB to sign up. If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can sign up for Part A by visiting your local Social Security office or by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. To get more information on how to enroll in Medicare if you have ESRD, visit www.medicare.gov to view the booklet, “Medicare Coverage of Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services.”
If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Part A, you can buy it during the following times:
- Initial Enrollment Period
When you first become eligible for Medicare (3 months before you turn age 65 to 3 months after the month you turn age 65).
Between January 1–March 31 each year.
If you or your spouse (or family member if you are disabled) is working and has group health plan coverage through the employer or union.
If you are serving as a volunteer in a foreign country.
If you don’t buy Part A when you are first eligible, the monthly premium may go up 10% unless you are eligible for a special enrollment period. For more information on Part A, call Social Security, or visit www.socialsecurity.gov. If you get benefits from the RRB, call your local RRB office or 1-800-808-0772. After January 1, 2009, call the RRB toll-free at 1-877-772-5772.
When Can You Sign Up for Part B?
If you get benefits from Social Security or the RRB, you will automatically get Part B starting the first day of the month you turn age 65. If you are under age 65 and disabled, you will automatically get Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security or certain disability benefits from the RRB for 24 months. You will get your Medicare card in the mail about 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability. If you don’t want Part B, follow the instructions that come with the card, and send the card back. If you keep the card, you keep Part B and will pay Part B premiums.
If you have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease), you automatically get Part B the month your disability benefits begin.
If you have ESRD, you can sign up for Part B when you sign up for Part A.
If you aren’t getting Social Security or RRB benefits, and
you want to get Part B, you will need to sign up for Part B during your initial enrollment period (the period that begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after the month of your 65th birthday).
If you didn’t sign up for Part B when you first became eligible, you may be able to sign up during one of these times:
- General Enrollment Period
Between January 1–March 31 each year. Your coverage will begin on July 1. The cost of your Part B will go up 10% for each full 12-month period you could have had Part B but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period (see below). You may have to pay this late enrollment penalty as long as you have Part B.
If you wait to sign up for Part B because you or your spouse is working and has group health plan coverage based on that work, or if you are disabled and you or a family member is working and has group health plan coverage based on that work. You can sign up for Part B any time while you have group health plan coverage based on current employment or during the 8-month period that begins the month the employment ends, or the group health plan coverage ends, whichever happens first.
If you waited to enroll in Part B because you had health insurance while volunteering in a foreign country. You can sign up during the 6-month period that begins the month you are no longer volunteering outside the United States, or the sponsoring organization is no longer tax exempt, or you no longer have health coverage outside the U.S. whichever comes first. Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up for Part B during a special enrollment period. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 for more information about your Medicare eligibility and to enroll in Part B. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. If you get RRB benefits, call your local RRB office or 1-800-808-0772. After January 1, 2009, call the RRB toll free at 1-877-772-5772. For general information about enrolling, visit www.medicare.gov and select, “Find Out if You Are Eligible for Medicare and When You Can Enroll.” You can also get free personalized health insurance counseling from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
Medicare Advantage Programs
Who Can Join?
You can generally join a Medicare Advantage Plan if you meet these conditions.
- You have Part A and Part B.
- You live in the service area of the plan. Contact the plan you're interested in to find out about its service area.
- You don't have End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant)
Can you join a Medicare Advantage Plan if you have employer or union coverage?
If the plan decides to no longer participate in the Medicare program, you will have to join another Medicare Advantage Plan or return to the Original Medicare.