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How and When Do You Initially Sign Up for Medicare

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, July 27, 2021

Most of us know that someday, we will retire and claim our Medicare benefits. But as that time draws closer, you suddenly discover that you aren’t sure of the enrollment process. What do you need to do, and when do you need to do it, in order to sign up for Medicare?

You become eligible for Medicare at age 65. Your enrollment window begins three months before your 65’th birthday, runs through the month of your birthday, and then continues for three months afterward. If you don’t already participate in a health insurance program, you should enroll during this time, or else you could be charged higher premiums when you do enroll.

Some people aren’t required to enroll. However, if you’re participating in a group healthcare program through your employer, the rules become more complicated. Depending upon the size of your employer, you might be able to defer your Medicare enrollment without incurring a penalty. Or, you can go ahead and enroll, and your Medicare plan will serve as a supplement to your primary healthcare plan.

If you fall into this group, discuss your options with a licensed insurance agent before making any decisions.

There are two ways to enroll. If you’ve already claimed your Social Security benefits, you will be enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. The system will automatically assign you to Original Medicare, or Parts A and B. But if you prefer to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or want to add a Medigap or supplement plan, you still need to consult with an insurance agent who specializes in Medicare.

Those who have not already claimed their Social Security benefits are responsible for their own Medicare enrollment. You can sign up online, at www.medicare.gov. However, consulting with a licensed health insurance agent will help you to review all of your options and choose from among the many different plans available to you.

There’s no charge for accessing professional services. Insurance agents who specialize in Medicare offer their services for free, so that you can access skilled guidance before enrolling in a Medicare plan.

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