What You Need to Know About Medicare- Part One
Updated: May 13, 2020
What is Medicare
Medicare is a national health insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration. In July of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, providing health insurance to people age 65 and older. In fact, former President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess were the first recipients of Medicare.
There are two original parts to Medicare: Part A covers inpatient hospital and skilled nursing care. Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient care.
In order to qualify for Medicare, you must be a legal resident living in the U.S. for at least 5 years in a row. You must also be 65 or older, or younger than 65 if you have a qualifying disability. Anyone with end-stage renal disease or ALS will also qualify.
Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage Plan, was created in 1997. These are private health plans which combine Medicare Parts A and B. We’ll talk more about these in our next blog.
Part D, or Prescription Drug Plan, took effect in 2006. This program complements the other plans by paying various amounts for prescription medications.
Medicare Supplements, also referred to as Medigap, is a private insurance that helps fill the “gap” by paying much of the costs not covered by Original Medicare Parts A and B.
Stay tuned, we’ll go into more depth with these in a future blog.
Who should sign up
Everyone turning 65 should sign up for Medicare. It’s not automatic unless you’ve been receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits. Even if you decide to continue working past age 65 you may want to enroll in Part A since it is premium-free for most people. You can delay signing up for Part B if you are still working and have creditable health coverage through your employer, as there is a current monthly premium of $144.60 for most people.
How to sign up
You can sign up three different ways. The first option is by going into a Social Security Administration (SSA) office and applying for Medicare in person. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, this may not be possible at this time. Another option is applying over the phone. You can contact the SSA to apply at 1-800-772-1213. The final option would be to apply online through their website at www.ssa.gov where it may take 10 to 30 minutes to complete your application.
You can apply as early as three months prior to your 65th birth month.
When applying online, click “Menu”, then click “Medicare”. From there, you will click “Apply for Medicare Only”. Next, you can either Start a New Application or Return to Saved Application Process. You will then input basic information like your name, date of birth, social security number, and gender. Once you get to this point you will get a reentry number that can be used if you want to pause your application, and finish at a later time. You will then answer some questions about the Medicare-only decision and your health benefits. Your application will be complete once you review your summary of the application, accept the electronic agreement signature, and select “Submit Now”.
In the following weeks, we will be going into depth, helping your decision for choosing the best Medicare option for you. We will help you understand the differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. If you are still unsure about signing up for Medicare Part A or Part B, or you can’t wait till next month to hear about Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplements, or you have any other questions regarding health and life insurance products, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our agents. You can also contact us by submitting a form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with all of your insurance needs.