How to Apply for Medicare Part B

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid offer Medicare Part A and Part B through the Social Security Administration. Part A is the hospital insurance component, and Part B is medical insurance. Although you do not have to apply for both parts at the same time, to be eligible for Part B insurance you must already have Medicare Part A. Apply for either part in person at your local Social Security Office, by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or online at Medicare.gov.

Sign Up for Medicare Part A

Of the three enrollment options, Medicare.gov prefers that you apply online. In addition to supplying personal and contact information, you’ll also need to provide start and end dates for current or previous health insurance if you are or were covered under a group health insurance plan. The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for Medicare Part A three months before you turn 65 even if you plan to continue working and currently have group health insurance.

When to Apply for Part B

If you don’t already have health insurance or plan to continue working and have group health insurance with an employer having fewer than 20 employees, sign up for Medicare Part B when you first become eligible. In this situation, Medicare automatically becomes your primary insurance and your group health insurance becomes secondary. If you do not enroll, your employer's plan can deny coverage for services covered under Medicare Part B. Otherwise, apply within eight months of dropping your group health coverage or leaving your job.

How to Apply for Part B

The only time you can apply for Medicare Part B online is if you enroll in both Part A and B at the same time. Otherwise, fill out and drop off or send Form CMS-40B to your local Social Security office through the mail. The Social Security Administration website has an online office locator if you need help finding an office in your area. In addition to your Social Security number and contact information, you’ll need the beneficiary identification code from your Medicare Part A card to complete the form.

Part B Premiums

Unlike with Medicare Part A, which has no monthly premium payment requirements, you pay a premium each month for Medicare Part B. Although the required monthly payment depends on the most recent tax return information provided to Social Security by the Internal Revenue Service, most people pay the standard premium, which for 2015 is $104.90.

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About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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