How to Apply for Medicare Parts A and B

When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital coverage) and Part B (Outpatient coverage). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down, typically when a person decides to keep their employer health insurance.

If you are looking for a Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage HMO or Medicare Part D Rx plan, you must have both Medicare Parts A and B in place.

Online Application or Call to Enroll

How do I sign up?

If you are starting both Medicare and Social Security income when you turn 65, you most likely do not need to sign up because you will automatically get Parts A and Part B.  Your red, white and blue Medicare card will arrive in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday.  If you do not receive your Medicare ID card you will need to confirm with Social Security, your A and B coverage is starting when you turn 65.

Delay your Medicare Part B enrollment:

Some choose to keep their employer group health insurance after they turn 65.  In this case you can delay enrolling in Medicare B without penalty.  If you decide to enroll in Part B later on, and you do not have employer health insurance in place, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B.

If you want your medicare A and B to start at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period (no group health insurance), you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period” from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll.

If you keep your Group Health Policy:

If you have qualifying employer health insurance in place after you turn 65 you can keep this coverage without a Medicare penalty for as long as you like, and enroll in Medicare after the group health coverage ends.  Although your decision may be based on the number of employees and your group health plan.  Please see below.

Apply for Medicare Only:

  • Apply online for only Medicare and not Social Security benefits. Click here
  •  Check your Medicare Application Status:  Click Here

You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information.

Who can apply for Medicare online?

You can use our online Medicare application if you:

  • Are at least 64 years and 9 months old;
  • Want to sign up for Medicare but do not currently have ANY Medicare coverage;
  • Do not want to start receiving Social Security benefits at this time; and
  • Are not currently receiving Social Security retirement, disability or survivors benefits.

You can also apply by phone – call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

When your employer/union coverage ends:

I’m currently working, and I have coverage through my job.

The size of the employer determines whether you may be able to delay Part A and Part B without having to pay a penalty if you enroll later.

Number of Employees:

The employer has fewer than 20 employees: You should sign up for Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible.

The employer has 20 or more employees:  Once the employment (or your employer/union coverage) ends, 3 things happen:

  1. You may be able to get COBRA coverage, which continues your health insurance through the employer’s plan (in most cases for only 18 months) and probably at a higher cost to you.
  2. You have 8 months to sign up for Part B without a penalty, whether or not you choose COBRA. To sign up for Part B while you’re employed or during the 8 months after employment ends.
  3. If you already have COBRA coverage when you enroll in Medicare, your COBRA will probably end. If you become eligible for COBRA coverage after you’re already enrolled in Medicare, you must be allowed to take the COBRA coverage. It will always be secondary to Medicare (unless you have End-Stage Renal Disease ESRD.


Contact me anytime with questions.

John Conner

Medicare Plan Options ... Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D Rx