Now that you know what Medicare is and the potential benefits you can get from it, you probably want to know how to join it. There are specific moments in which you can enroll in Medicare and in some cases you do not have to sign up to it, you are enrolled automatically. In this article we will explain if you are eligibly or not, and the moments when you can enroll.
Original Medicare’s Eligibility
If you want to join Original Medicare and get a premium-free Part A, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- You are 65 years or older U.S citizen or have been permanent legal resident for five continuous years, and you or your spouse (or qualifying ex-spouse) has paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years while working or has worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security or railroad retirement benefits (usually having earned 40 credits).
- You are under 65, disabled, and have been receiving either Social Security SSDI benefits or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits. In this case, you must receive one of these benefits for at least 24 months from date of entitlement before becoming eligible to enroll in Medicare.
- You have Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). In this case you qualify immediately.
- You get continuing dialysis for End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or need a kidney transplant. In this case, you must sign up for Medicare, as your enrollment isn’t automatic.
If you do not meet these requirements, joining Original Medicare is still possible if you you’re a U.S. citizen or have been a legal resident for at least five years and you are 65 or older. In this case, you get it by paying premiums for Part A. The price of the premium will depend on how many work credits you have. If you continue working and accumulate 40 credits, you will no longer pay the premiums.
How and when do I join Original Medicare?
The best moment to join Medicare is during the Initial Enrollment Period. This is a period of 7 months that starts 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 enroll anytime during this period and your coverage start date will depend on when you sign up.
Take into consideration that if you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible (during the Initial Enrollment Period), you will have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later.
There is another enrollment period when you can get Original Medicare if your Initial Enrollment Period already passed. This is the Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You are eligible for this period if you are covered under a group health based on current employment as longs as you or your spouse is working and you are covered by a group health plan through the employer or union based on that work. This also applies to you the month after the employment ends and the month after group health plan insurance based on current employment ends.
During SEP you usually do not have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Bear in mind that COBRA and retiree health plans aren’t considered coverage based on current employment.
If you do not meet the requirements for the SEP and your Initial Enrollment Period already passed you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period. This period is between January 1–March and you must pay premiums for Part A and/or Part B if you apply during this period. You may have to pay a higher premium for late enrollment in Part A and/or a higher premium for late enrollment in Part B.
Learn more about Medicare medisupps.com/aetna-medicare-supplement-plans-2018.