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.
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