How to Apply to for Medicare Online, In Person or Over the Phone

This guide can help you navigate the enrollment process for each part of Medicare and for different types of Medicare coverage. If you’re ready to sign up for Medicare online, in person or over the phone, you can do so in the following ways:

  • Online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-0778), Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM
  • Apply in-person at your local Social Security office

Learn more about each type of Medicare coverage and find out more about how and when you can enroll.

Medicare enrollment form

Medicare Part A

Part A of Medicare provides coverage for inpatient care at hospitals, skilled nursing homes and for hospice care, among other services related to inpatient care. 

Medicare Part A eligibility

Most U.S. citizens who are at least 65 years old are eligible for Medicare Part A. Some people under 65 may be eligible because of a qualifying disability or medical condition.

Most people are eligible for premium-free Part A due to the Medicare taxes they paid while working. If you have to pay for Medicare Part A, you could pay up to $437 per month in 2019.

When to apply for Medicare Part A

If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board retirement benefits,  you should receive your Medicare card in the mail approximately three months before your 65th birthday, and your coverage will begin on the first day of the month that you turn 65.

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

If you do need to manually sign up for Medicare Part A, you can do so when you first become eligible, which is typically three months before your 65th birthday. This marks the start of your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period, which lasts through the month of your 65th birthday and lasts for another three months. 

After your Initial Enrollment Period, you may be eligible to sign up for Medicare Part A through a Special Enrollment Period. There are several specific reasons you might qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, so be sure to check your eligibility if you think you’re qualified.

If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period and don’t qualify for Special Enrollment, you can sign up for Medicare Part A during the Medicare General Enrollment Period, which lasts from January 1 through March 31 every year. Your coverage won’t begin until July 1, however. If you pay a premium for Part A, you could also pay a late enrollment penalty.

How to sign up for Medicare Part A

If you want to sign up for Medicare Part A, you can contact Social Security to get started.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B provides coverage for outpatient care such as doctor’s appointments, and it also covers medical equipment and supplies.

Medicare Part B Eligibility

The eligibility requirements for Part B of Medicare are essentially the same as those of Part A. Some people under 65 may be eligible because of a qualifying disability or medical condition. 

Unlike Medicare Part A, Part B is optional. This means that you are not required to sign up for Medicare Part B coverage. If you decide to apply for Medicare Part B at a later time, however, you may be responsible for paying a Part B late enrollment fee.

When to apply for Medicare Part B

As with Medicare Part A, you may be automatically enrolled in Part B of Medicare upon becoming eligible. But unlike Part A, Medicare Part B comes with a standard monthly premium of $135.50 in 2019, though you could pay more depending on your income.

If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B, you can manually do so during your Initial Enrollment period, during a Special Enrollment Period or during the Medicare General Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31

How to sign up for Medicare Part B 

If you need to manually sign up for Medicare Part B, you can complete the Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B)

If you wish to opt out of Part B, you must contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local Social Security office.  

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage plans)

Part C of Medicare, otherwise known as Medicare Advantage, provides all the same coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B under one plan sold by a private insurance company.

Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer other benefits such as coverage for prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing aids and other services not covered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).

Medicare Part C Eligibility

Medicare Advantage eligibility first requires enrollment in Medicare Part A and Part B. You must also live in the area serviced by the Medicare Advantage plan you’re applying for, and in most cases, you cannot have end-stage renal disease (ESRD) to qualify for a plan.

When to apply for Medicare Part C

You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Enrollment Period. As mentioned above, this is the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month and lasts for three additional months. 

As with Medicare Part A and Part B, if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may be able to apply for a Medicare Advantage plan during a Special Enrollment Period, if you qualify.

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The other time you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan is during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which is also sometimes called the Annual Election Period (AEP). If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, or if you have other forms of Medicare coverage and want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, you can do so during this time of year.

How to sign up for Medicare Part C

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies. One way to enroll is to first connect with a licensed insurance agent who will help you review available plan options in your area and assist you with the application process.

Call  TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you find and enroll in the Medicare plan that’s right for you.

Medicare Part D enrollment (prescription drug plans)

Medicare Part D is comprised of plans that provide coverage solely for prescription medications. These plans are sold by private insurance companies.

Medicare Part D Eligibility 

In order to be eligible for a Medicare Part D plan, you must be enrolled in either Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include coverage for prescription drugs.

When to apply for Medicare Part D

You can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan as soon as you become eligible for Medicare coverage. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part D when you first become eligible and you don’t have other creditable prescription drug coverage, you may have to pay a Part D late enrollment penalty.

How to sign up for Medicare Part D

Like Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D plans are sold by private insurance companies, so it may be helpful to contact a licensed insurance agent who can help you shop for plans in your area.

Call  TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, provides coverage for certain out-of-pocket Medicare costs. These expenses can include things like deductibles, coinsurance, copayments and emergency care received outside of the U.S. 

Medicare Supplement Insurance Eligibility

To be eligible for a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare and live in the area that the plan you want services. 

Not all states require Medicare Supplement Insurance plans to be available to people under 65, even if they qualify for Original Medicare because of a disability.

When to apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance

The earliest time that you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. If you sign up for a Medigap policy outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, insurance companies can charge you higher premiums or deny your application due to your age and health.

How to sign up for Medicare Supplement Insurance

If you want to learn more about Medigap policies in your area, you can speak with a licensed insurance agent or request a free, no-obligation quote online.

You may not have a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan at the same time.

Get more help applying for a Medicare plan

If you have more questions about applying for Medicare, speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you review the plan options available where you live. Call  TTY Users: 711 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to learn more.

Copyright © 2018 TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. All rights reserved.

MedicareAdvantage.com is a website owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and TruBridge, Inc. represent Medicare Advantage Organizations and Prescription Drug Plans having Medicare contracts; enrollment in any plan depends upon contract renewal.

Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.