There are three types of Medicare plans that all have different ways of signing up. Each of these plans also has different enrollment periods. If you’re new to Medicare, delaying your enrollment could result in various penalties and fees. It’s helpful to set reminders for these important dates, especially when signing up for Medicare for the first time.
Step 1: Determine Whether You Need to Sign Up for Medicare
Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A hospital insurance and Medicare Part B medical insurance.
You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B if:
- You receive Social Security retirement benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least four months before turning 65.
- You are under the age of 65 and have received Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for at least 24 months.
If you already collect Social Security retirement benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.
No further action is required.
Your coverage will begin the first day of the month you turn 65.
Step 2: Signing Up for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)
There are a few different ways to sign up for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B if you are not automatically enrolled.
Medicare Part A and Part B are also called Original Medicare.
3 Ways to Sign Up for Medicare Part A and Part B
- Fill out the online application on the Social Security Administration’s website. Click Here to Begin online enrollment.
- Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Visit your local Social Security office. You can use the Social Security office locator to find your nearest location.
If you worked at a railroad, call the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701) to sign up.
DID YOU KNOW?
Medicare enrollment takes place through the Social Security Administration. After that, your benefits are administered by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS.Source: Social Security Administration
If you are not automatically enrolled, the best time to sign up for Medicare is during your initial enrollment period.
This is a seven-month window that begins three months before the first day of the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birth month and ends three months after your birthday.
Delaying Part B Coverage and Late Enrollment Penalties
You should enroll in Part A when you’re first eligible near your 65th birthday, but some people may choose to delay Part B.
If you receive group health insurance at work — or through your spouse’s employer — you may be able to delay enrollment in Part B.
But once you stop working or that coverage ends, you must sign up for Part B within eight months. Otherwise, you’ll face a late enrollment penalty.
If you enroll in Part B after your group health insurance ends, you have options for how to apply.
You can do so online through an application on the Social Security website or by mail.
How to Sign Up for Part B by Mail After Employer Health Insurance Ends
- Print out and complete CMS 40B Form Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance).
- Provide any required proof of employment or group health plan coverage on your 40B form.
- Print out and complete Section A of CMS L564 Form – Request for Employment Information.
- Ask your employer to fill out Section B of CMS L564 Form.
- Mail both forms together (CMS 40B and CMS L564) to your local Social Security office.
- Or fax your enrollment forms and evidence of employment to 1-833-914-2016.
Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778) for help or more information.
Each year the Medicare Part B premium, deductible, and coinsurance rates are determined according to the Social Security Act. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $164.90 for 2023, a decrease of $5.20 from $170.10 in 2022. The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $226 in 2023, a decrease of $7 from the annual deductible of $233 in 2022.
Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts
Since 2007, a beneficiary’s Part B monthly premium is based on his or her income. The 2023 Part B total premiums for high-income beneficiaries are shown in the following table:
|Full Part B Coverage|
|Beneficiaries who file individual tax returns with modified adjusted gross income:||Beneficiaries who file joint tax returns with modified adjusted gross income:||Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount||Total Monthly Premium Amount|
|Less than or equal to $97,000||Less than or equal to $194,000||$0.00||$164.90|
|Greater than $97,000 and less than or equal to $123,000||Greater than $194,000 and less than or equal to $246,000||$65.90||$230.80|
|Greater than $123,000 and less than or equal to $153,000||Greater than $246,000 and less than or equal to $306,000||$164.80||$329.70|
|Greater than $153,000 and less than or equal to $183,000||Greater than $306,000 and less than or equal to $366,000||$263.70||$428.60|
|Greater than $183,000 and less than $500,000||Greater than $366,000 and less than $750,000||$362.60||$527.50|
|Greater than or equal to $500,000||Greater than or equal to $750,000||$395.60||$560.50|
Premiums for high-income beneficiaries with full Part B coverage who are married and lived with their spouse at any time during the taxable year, but file a separate return, are as follows:
|Full Part B Coverage|
|Beneficiaries who are married and lived with their spouses at any time during the year, but who file separate tax returns from their spouses, with modified adjusted gross income:||Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount||Total Monthly Premium Amount|
|Less than or equal to $97,000||$0.00||$164.90|
|Greater than $97,000 and less than $403,000||$362.60||$527.50|
|Greater than or equal to $403,000||$395.60||$560.50|
Medicare Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts
Since 2011, higher income beneficiaries’ Part D monthly premiums are based on income. These income-related monthly adjustment amounts affect roughly 8 percent of people with Medicare Part D. These individuals will pay the income-related monthly adjustment amount in addition to their Part D premium. Part D premiums vary from plan to plan and roughly two-thirds of beneficiaries pay premiums directly to the plan, while the remaining beneficiaries have their premiums deducted from their Social Security benefit checks. Regardless of how a beneficiary pays their Part D premium, the Part D income-related monthly adjustment amounts are deducted from Social Security benefit checks or paid directly to Medicare. The 2023 Part D income-related monthly adjustment amounts for high-income beneficiaries are shown in the following table:
|Beneficiaries who file individual tax returns with modified adjusted gross income:||Beneficiaries who file joint tax returns with modified adjusted gross income:||Income-related monthly adjustment amount|
|Less than or equal to $97,000||Less than or equal to $194,000||$0.00|
|Greater than $97,000 and less than or equal to $123,000||Greater than $194,000 and less than or equal to $246,000||12.20|
|Greater than $123,000 and less than or equal to $153,000||Greater than $246,000 and less than or equal to $306,000||31.50|
|Greater than $153,000 and less than or equal to $183,000||Greater than $306,000 and less than or equal to $366,000||50.70|
|Greater than $183,000 and less than $500,000||Greater than $366,000 and less than $750,000||70.00|
|Greater than or equal to $500,000||Greater than or equal to $750,000||76.40|
Step 3: Explore Your Other Medicare Coverage Options
Once you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you can explore additional coverage options.
You can decide to:
- Stick with Original Medicare.
- Add a Medigap supplement insurance policy.
- Add a Part D prescription drug plan.
- Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan — also known as Part C — to replace your Original Medicare coverage.
Medicare Part D, Medigap and Medicare Advantage are all administered by private insurance companies that contract with CMS.
Step 4: Be Aware of Other Enrollment Periods
Most people sign up for Medicare during the seven-month initial enrollment period around their 65th birthday.
But what if you missed your initial enrollment period and want to make changes or add additional coverage?
There are specific times each year when you can do this.
Alternate Medicare Enrollment Periods
Medicare Open Enrollment Each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, all existing Medicare users can make changes to their coverage during the open enrollment period. During this time, you can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, change your Medicare Advantage plan, sign up for a Part D plan and change or drop your current Part D plan. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment. If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can change or drop your plan between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year.
Medicare General Enrollment
If you did not enroll in Medicare when you were first eligible, the general enrollment period is an opportunity to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B for the first time. It runs from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year. Once you sign up, your coverage will begin July 1.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period
Certain life events may also allow you to make changes to your Medicare coverage if you qualify for a special enrollment period. There are more than 20 qualifying special circumstances listed on Medicare’s website. Each special enrollment situation has specific rules about when you can make changes to your coverage and the types of changes you can make.
Step 5: Sign Up for a MyMedicare.gov Account
After you sign up for Medicare, you can create a MyMedicare.gov account to manage your coverage.
With your MyMedicare.gov account, you can:
- Check your enrollment status.
- Get details about the plans you’re enrolled in and what they cover.
- Update your personal information.
- Enter your health records and prescription drugs.
- View Medicare claims
- Print replacement Medicare cards.
- Share information with your providers.
Creating an account on MyMedicare.gov is quick and easy.
How to Sign Up for MyMedicare.gov
- Go to the Create an Account page.
- Have your Medicare number and Part A effective start date handy.
- Fill out the required information on the page.
- Follow the instructions and confirm your new account.
|Plan||How to Sign Up||Enrollment Period||Penalties for Delaying Enrollment|
|Original Medicare (Part A and B)||Fill out the online application on the Social Security Administration’s website.Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.Visit your local Social Security office.||Automatic or three months before the month you turn 65 and extends three months after.||10 percent of the monthly premium|
|Medicare Advantage Plans||Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.Go online and use the Medicare Plan Finder.Contact the plan provider online or over the phone.||Oct. 15 to Dec. 7||None|
|Supplement Insurance (Medigap)||Find a Medigap policy by using an online tool on the Medicare website.Contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free help.Call your State Insurance Department.||Six months after the month you’re 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.||None|
|Prescription Drugs (Part D)||Call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.Go online and use the Medicare Plan Finder.Contact the insurance company that offers the Part D plan directly.||Oct. 15 to Dec. 7||It depends on how long you went without Part D|
EVEN IF YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY ENROLLED, YOU MAY ALSO DECIDE TO:
- Sign up for a Medicare Part D drug plan.
- Buy a Medigap supplement insurance policy.
- Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.