Medicare Application Process

Medicare provides health insurance to people 65 and older, disabled people and people with end-stage renal disease. Medicare consists of Part A for hospital expenses, Part B for general health expenses such as doctor's visits and medical supplies, and Part D for prescription drug coverage. Parts B and D require you to pay monthly premiums. You can apply for all of the Medicare parts at one time or separately. However, if you do not start Part B or Part D benefits when you are first eligible for them, you will incur late-enrollment penalties in the form of higher monthly premiums.

Visit the Social Security Administration (SSA) website. Click the "Medicare" heading at the top of the screen. Select "Apply for Medicare benefits" on the following page.

Select the answers that pertain to your situation. Indicate if you are applying for yourself or someone else and if you are blind or have other visual impairments. Click the "Internet Special Notices Option" and the "Privacy Act Statement" links and read the information. Select the confirmation bubbles when you finish reading. Click "Apply for Benefits."

Go through the application which will require you to input information including your name, sex, address, Social Security number, date of birth, spousal information, current medical coverage and medical history.

Review your application on the last page and click "Submit." The SSA will contact you if it needs more information but, generally, online applications do not require you to send in documentation. You will receive your Medicare card within 30 days of applying.