When original Medicare is processing a person’s application, it sends a notification letter in the mail. While waiting to receive word of acceptance, a person can check the status of their application in several ways.
This article explains how to check on the status of a Medicare application, and how people who don’t receive automatic enrollment may sign up. It then describes the enrollment periods for original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Part D, and Medigap. Lastly, the article provides information on the Medicare card.
Original Medicare consists of Part A, hospital insurance, and Part B, medical insurance. After an individual applies, they get a number they can use to check on their application status.
A person may do this by contacting Social Security in one of the following ways:
- logging into or creating their My Social Security account
- visiting their local Social Security office
- calling 1 (800) 772-1213
People may also check on their application status through logging into their My Medicare account.
Once Medicare processes an application, it sends a person a letter notifying them whether or not they are accepted. It also sends a Medicare card to accepted applicants.
Medicare Advantage Part C is the alternative to original Medicare, and provides the benefits of both parts A and B. A person may check the status of their Advantage plan application by contacting the private company that offers it. When a company accepts an application, it sends the beneficiary a Medicare Advantage Plan ID card in the mail.
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. As with Advantage plans, someone may contact the private company that offers the plan to check their application status. Accepted applicants receive a Part D card in the mail.
If a person is getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least 4 months before they turn 65, they usually get Medicare parts A and B automatically. The benefits start on the first day of the month of their 65 birthday.
People who have a disability and are under age 65 get Medicare automatically after they receive Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. This also happens after individuals receive certain disability benefits for 24 months from the Railroad Retirement Board.
If someone is not getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits at least 4 months before they turn 65, they have to sign up during one of the enrollment periods.
To sign up for Medicare, an individual may contact Social Security through its website, phone number, or local office.
When filling out an application, people are asked to provide personal information, such as:
- date and place of birth
- name of current spouse and place of marriage
- start and end dates of their current employment
- start and end dates of their group health insurance
Someone may enroll in original Medicare during the initial, general, or special enrollment periods.
Initial Enrollment Period
When people do not receive automatic enrollment in Medicare, the best time to enroll is during the Initial Enrollment Period when they first become eligible. This is a 7-month time span that starts 3 months before an individual turns 65.
If someone waits to enroll during the later enrollment period, they may have to pay late enrollment penalties. The penalties are permanent rather than temporary.
General Enrollment Period
People who miss enrolling during the initial enrollment may sign up during the General Enrollment Period, which runs between January 1 and March 31 of each year. The late enrollment penalties may involve higher premiums for both parts A and B.
Special Enrollment Period
Some individuals do not sign up for Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period because they have group health insurance with an employer. After their employment or group health coverage ends, they may sign up during the Special Enrollment Period. This is an 8-month time frame that begins the month after.
Signing up during this period does not involve a penalty.
People with original Medicare who wish to sign up for Medicare Advantage and Part D have two enrollment period options.
Initial Enrollment Period
After enrolling in original Medicare, someone may wish to change to an Advantage plan. They may do so during the Initial Enrollment Period.
If a person with original Medicare wishes to buy a part D plan, the best time to do it is during this time frame. When an individual waits until later to enroll, they may have to pay a penalty.
Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Part D
People who do not change to an Advantage plan or buy a Part D plan during initial enrollment may take these actions later. They may do either during the Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Part D, which runs between October 15 and December 7.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, a person may switch Advantage plans or return to original Medicare. However, they may not buy or switch a Part D plan during this period.
Medigap is Medicare supplement insurance. The time to buy a plan is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This is a 6-month time span that begins the month someone turns 65 and enrolls in Part B.
Once this period ends, an individual may not be able to enroll in a Medigap plan. If a company accepts their late application to Medigap, they may have to pay a higher premium due to any health conditions they have.
In contrast, if a person signs up during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, the company selling the plan cannot charge more than they would charge someone with no health problems.
The red, white and blue Medicare card shows whether a person has original Medicare Part A, Part B, or both. It also shows the start date of a person’s coverage.
Individuals should carry the card with them when away from home. A doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare providers will ask to see the card. If a person has forgotten to take it with them, a provider can look up their Medicare number online.
There are scams that involve calls to people with Medicare to try to get their card number and other personal information. Individuals should take care to not give this information to anyone over the phone. According to Medicare, it never makes unrequested calls to beneficiaries.
When a person applies to Medicare, they receive a number, which they may use to check on the status of their application. A quick way to check involves logging into their My Medicare account or their My Social Security account.
When someone does not receive automatic enrollment in Medicare, they can enroll in a plan. A person may want to sign up during the initial enrollment period to avoid penalties.