Medicare insurance is available for qualifying persons when they reach the age of 65, and there are four different parts to Medicare. Part A is the hospital coverage; Part B is outpatient care; Part C is Medicare Advantage; and Part D is prescription medicine coverage. Each Medicare part has different rules and requirements for registration. You can apply for Medicare Part B online, or automatic enrollment may occur at the age of 65.
Review the Medicare rules before registering for Part B. Register for Part A within three months of your 65th birthday. Consider whether you should apply for Part B. You may not want to apply for Part B if you are still working and have health insurance coverage for outpatient services, unless your employer has less than 20 employees. Most literature recommends Part B if your employer has less than 20 employees, since the Part B coverage is your primary insurance under that circumstance. You have eight months after you quit working or after your employee insurance coverage ends to apply for Part B coverage without additional penalties.
Qualify to apply for Part B. Anyone eligible for free Part A (Medicare hospital insurance) can apply for Medicare Part B and pay the monthly premium to continue coverage. The minimum cost of Part B coverage for new enrollees in 2010 is $110. There is also a yearly deductible and 20 percent coinsurance payment. If you are not eligible for free Part A coverage because you do not meet the 40 quarters of work, you may still apply for Part B coverage if you are a U. S. citizen or have lived in the United States at least five years as a lawfully-admitted noncitizen.
Apply for Part B online only if you are not otherwise registered. If you receive Social Security prior to age 65, you will receive a card in the mail notifying you of Part A and Part B Medicare coverage. If you do nothing, you automatically enroll for these two coverages. If you do not want to register for Part B at that time, you may return the card, following the instructions to refuse Part B coverage.
Go to the Social Security website to apply for Part B if you are within three months of your 65th birthday (see Resources). Have your date of birth, Social Security Number and address available. Your Part B coverage will start when you reach 65 if you apply before your 65th birthday. If you apply within three months after your 65th birthday, coverage is delayed.
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.