Medicare can be a confusing subject for anyone. Even people in the industry have been known to struggle with navigating the official website. It is entirely understandable if a parent needs a little help.
The good news is that your parent may not have to register for Medicare; enrollment is automatic for many people. But once enrolled, your parent may need help choosing the best type of coverage and the best available plan. Our friendly agents are always happy to help.
What Are the Different Parts of Medicare?
There are four different parts of Medicare, each covering various specific services:
- Part A provides inpatient hospital coverage.
- Part B provides outpatient (doctor visit) medical coverage.
- Part C offers alternative ways to receive Medicare benefits.
- Part D provides prescription drug coverage.
Who Is Automatically Enrolled in Medicare?
Individuals receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits when they turn 65 years old are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. This is done by the Social Security Administration. However, If you want to enroll in Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) or Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), you will need to do that on your own.
When Do You Sign Up If You Are Not Automatically Enrolled In Medicare?
Anyone not automatically enrolled will need to register for original Medicare (Parts A and B) during their Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – the seven-month period beginning three months before the 65th birthday month and continuing for three months after that month. For example, if your parent turns 65 in July, the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period will be April through October.
It is essential to understand that your parents will not be enrolled in Medicare as a couple. Each individual must sign up separately. If one parent is younger than the other, they will qualify for Medicare at different times, and each person will have a different IEP.
How Do You Sign Up for Medicare?
If your parent is not receiving Social Security benefits and automatically enrolled in Medicare, he or she can enroll online during the Initial Enrollment Period. Go to the Medicare Benefits page on the Social Security website to apply. Scroll down the page and click on Apply for Medicare Only, then fill out the application. You can save it and go back to it later if you need to. Once it is submitted, the Social Security Administration will process the application and contact your parent if necessary. In approximately three weeks, your parent should receive a decision letter in the mail.
What Is Medicare Advantage?
As an alternative to original Medicare, your parent has the option of receiving Part A and Part B benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C). These health plans are available through private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Most include prescription drug coverage, and some offer additional benefits, such as dental, vision, or acupuncture coverage. If your parent takes prescription medications and decides to go with original Medicare instead of a Medicare Advantage Plan, he or she will need to sign up for Medicare Part D to have prescription drug coverage.