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Apply to Medicare

The Medicare program is broken into four main parts: Part A hospital insurance, Part B medical insurance, Part C Medicare Advantage plans, and Part D prescription drug coverage. Beneficiaries also have the option of enrolling in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to fill in any gaps in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage. Many individuals automatically qualify for Original Medicare when they turn 65 as a result of working for 10 or more years in a Medicare-covered profession, while others may have to apply for these benefits.

When to Apply to Medicare

Beneficiaries can apply for Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D plans during their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which begins three months before they become eligible for Medicare, and lasts for seven months. Annual enrollment periods also exist for them to make changes to their private health and prescription drug coverage. Additionally, certain life circumstances may allow them to be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to make changes to their Medicare coverage.

How to Apply to Medicare

Beneficiaries that are not automatically enrolled in Medicare should contact their local Social Security office three months before they become eligible to apply for Medicare. There are many different options available for those who wish to apply for Medicare, including:

  • Applying online via the Social Security website
  • Applying in person at your local Social Security office
  • Applying over the phone by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778)

After applying for Medicare through one of these methods, if there are no issues with your application, you should receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail.

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