how to buy into medicare
How to Buy into Medicare: A Guide for Eligible Individuals
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that covers millions of Americans who are 65 or older, disabled, or have certain medical conditions. Medicare provides benefits for hospital care, doctor visits, prescription drugs, preventive services, and more. But how do you buy into Medicare if you are eligible? This article will explain the steps you need to take to enroll in Medicare and start receiving the benefits you deserve.
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility
The first step to buy into Medicare is to check if you are eligible for the program. You are eligible for Medicare if you:
- Are 65 or older and a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years.
- Are under 65 and have a disability that qualifies you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for at least 24 months.
- Are under 65 and have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which is permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or a transplant.
- Are under 65 and have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
You can check your eligibility online by visiting the Medicare Eligibility & Premium Calculator or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Step 2: Choose Your Medicare Plan
The next step to buy into Medicare is to choose your Medicare plan. There are two main ways to get Medicare coverage: Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare consists of Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home health care. Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient services, preventive care, and some medical equipment and supplies. Most people get Part A for free if they or their spouse paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. Part B has a monthly premium that varies depending on your income. You can also buy supplemental insurance (Medigap) to help pay for some of the costs that Original Medicare does not cover, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is an alternative way to get Medicare coverage through private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans include all the benefits of Part A and Part B, and often offer additional benefits such as vision, dental, hearing, wellness programs, and prescription drug coverage (Part D). Medicare Advantage plans have different costs and rules depending on the plan you choose. You can compare Medicare Advantage plans online by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Step 3: Enroll in Medicare
The final step to buy into Medicare is to enroll in the plan you have chosen. The best time to enroll in Medicare is during your initial enrollment period (IEP), which is a seven-month period that begins three months before your 65th birthday month and ends three months after your 65th birthday month. If you are under 65 and eligible for Medicare due to disability or ESRD, your IEP starts three months before your 25th month of receiving SSDI or ESRD benefits and ends three months after your 25th month of receiving SSDI or ESRD benefits.
You can enroll in Original Medicare online by visiting the Social Security website, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your local Social Security office. You can also enroll in Original Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) if you worked for a railroad. You can enroll in Medicare Advantage or Part D online by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder, by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), or by contacting the plan directly.