Medicare & The Process

How do I sign up?
Those receiving Social Security are automatically enrolled in Parts A and B unless coverage is declined. If you don't have qualifying coverage from an employer plan, you'll pay an ongoing late enrollment penalty of 10% of the Part B premium for every 12 months you delay signing up and 1% of the average Part D premium for every month you delay signing up for Medicare drug coverage.

Step 1

Enroll in Original Medicare
Original Medicare: Provided by the federal government and comes in two Parts.

  • Medicare Part A: Helps pay for hospital stays and inpatient care
  • Medicare Part B: Helps pay for doctor visits and outpatient care

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

  • Starts 3 months before the month you turn 65
  • Ends 3 months after your birthday month
  • Including your birthday month it gives you a 7-month window
  • You can sign up for Original Medicare through the Social Security Administration.
    • ssa.gov/benefits/medicare/
    • or 800-772-1213
    • or local Social Security Administration office

Step 2

Decide what additional coverage you need. There are two ways to get it offered by private companies:

Option 1 - Add one or both of the following to Original Medicare

  • Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan (also referred to as Medigap) - Helps pay some of the out-of-pocket costs that come with Original Medicare Parts A and B.
  • Medicare Part D Plan (prescription drug plan) - Helps pay for prescription drugs

Option 2 – Medicare Advantage Plan

  • Combines Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) in one plan
  • Usually includes prescription drug coverage (satisfying Part D requirement)
  • May offer additional benefits not provided by Original Medicare

Part A (hospital insurance) - Helps pay for hospital stays and inpatient care

Part B (medical insurance) - Helps pay for doctor visits and outpatient care

Part D (prescription-drug) - Helps pay for prescription drugs (can be a standalone plan or included in Medicare Advantage plans)

Advantage Plans

  • Combines Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) in one plan
  • Coverage is solely provided by insurance carrier and their network of providers
  • Usually includes prescription drug (Part D) coverage
  • May offer additional benefits not provided by Original Medicare such as dental, vision, and hearing

Supplement (Medigap) Plans - Helps pay some of the out-of-pocket costs that come with Medicare and use original Medicare’s network or providers

Do not provide drug coverage

This period spans seven months—starting three months before your 65th birthday month and ending three months after your birthday month.

Oct 15 - Dec 7

If you have existing Medicare plan coverage(s), you can review, change, and/or drop these plans during this window each year. Remember, you must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B before you can enroll in an Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan.

Medicare Enrollment