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How to enroll in Medicare

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Everyone knows about the Medicare program existence in basic terms. Usually, people don’t start to actually look into how it works and if they are eligible until they actually need it.

What is Medicare? Medicare is the federal health insurance plan. It is designed to help offset the cost of medical care for certain groups of people. Those groups include people who reach the age of 65 or older, some categories of people younger than 65 who have disabilities, as well as people with End-Stage Renal Disease. If you fall under one of those categories, then most likely you are eligible to receive Medicare benefits. 

What Medicare consists of?

The Medicare program is complex and not easy to navigate. It consists of different parts.  Each part is designated to cover certain areas of medical care. Medicare Part A is also known as Hospital insurance. It covers most inpatient hospital stay services.  Part A also covers skilled nursing facility care, hospice care and home health care in some cases. Medicare Part B is the main part of this medical insurance. It covers your family doctor’s visits and specialist, outpatient care, medical supplies, and all preventative care.  And finally, Medicare Part D is the prescription drug coverage part of Medicare.  

Enrollment options

For some people, Medicare enrollment happens automatically.  But, others may need to look into enrolling in Medicare. It is very important that you don’t miss the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period or IEP. IEP is a seven-month period of time that begins three months before age 65.  It includes the month you turn 65 and ends three months after you turn 65. You can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B by going to your local Social Security office in person. If going out is difficult, you can also enroll online by going to https://enroll.alignmenthealthplan.com/how-to-enroll-medicare-california/.Another option includes calling Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778) if you happen to be without internet access or a computer. 

If you missed IEP for some reason, you can still enroll during the General Enrollment Period that lasts from January 1 through March 31 of each year. It is important to know that if you don’t enroll when you first become eligible during IEP, you may have to pay a late enrollment fee for Medicare Part A and/or B.

If you turned 65 but still work, check with your company’s health benefit plan. You may still be required to enroll in Medicare benefit plan depending on your company’s policy. Some companies will continue to cover you under their own health insurance plan. In that case, you have the option of delaying Medicare enrollment if you wish to do so. Be aware, that in case you are automatically enrolled in the Medicare Part A and/or B, you may have to contact your local Social Security office to waive your benefits until a later time. 

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