Two Ways to Get Medicare
- Original Medicare
- Part A (Hospital Insurance)
- Part B (Medical Insurance)
- Can choose to buy Part D (Rx coverage)
- Can choose to buy Medigap* Policy
- Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)
- Include Part A and Part B
- Sometimes include Part D (Rx coverage)
- Medigap* doesn’t work with these plans
* The term Medigap is also called Medicare Supplement – they are the same.
How do I sign up for Part A & Part B?
Contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65. You can also apply for Part A (premium‑free) and Part B (for which you pay a monthly premium) at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement or call 1‑800‑772‑1213 if you worked for a railroad, contact the RRB.
If you’re already getting benefits from Social Security or The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65.
If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday or your 25th month of disability benefits. If you don’t need 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.
Initial Enrollment Period
You can sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
When can I get a Medicare Supplement Insurance?
Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies are sold by private insurance companies. They help pay some of the health care costs that Medicare doesn’t cover. You will have a one-time 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period which starts the first month you’re 65 and enrolled in Part B. This period gives you a guaranteed right to buy any Medicare supplement policy sold in your state regardless of your health status.
Plan Choices / Standardized Benefits
The benefits of any Medicare supplement plan identified with the same letter have the same benefits regardless of which insurance company you purchase your policy from. So for instance, all Medicare supplements that are Plan F policies offer the same benefits.
The costs may vary, so it’s important to check with your agent about the different companies licensed to sell Medicare supplement policies in your state.
When you buy a Medicare supplement policy you pay a premium to the insurance company. You must still pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium.
- Plans identified by a letter
- Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, N are currently sold
- Companies don’t have to sell all plans
Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)
Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. Even if you don’t take many prescriptions now, you should consider joining a Medicare drug plan.
When you’re first eligible for Medicare
You can join during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
You can change your plan during October 15-December 7, anyone can join, switch, or drop a Medicare drug plan. The change will take effect on January 1 as long as the plan gets your request by December 7.