How to Sign Up for Medicare: How and When to Enroll

Enrolling in Medicare coverage options online is generally easy and quick. More and more people are signing up online, according to an Ensurance Offer study. According to Ensurance Offer’s survey, the majority of enrollees are happy with their Medicare coverage with 88% saying they are “very satisfied” with their plans.

You have several options when the time comes for you to enroll in Medicare. For some people, Medicare enrollment is automatic, while for others, it may depend on when and how they become eligible.

What documents do I need to apply for Medicare?

The documents needed to apply for Medicare include:

  • Social Security card
  • Your original birth certificate or certified copy
  • An alternate form of identification such as immunization records, medical records, insurance records or others in order to prove your age if you don’t have your birth certificate.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. passport, a Naturalization Certificate, a Certificate of Citizenship, or a U.S. consular report of birth if you were born outside of the United States.
  • Proof of legal residency if you are not a U.S. citizen, including your Permanent Residency Card (Green Card).
  • A record of your service or discharge papers if you had served in the U.S Military before 1968.
  • A W-2 or self employment tax information.
  • Your Social Security statement or records of your earnings.
Medicare Enrollment Periods – What are the enrollment months for Medicare?

For most people, enrolling in Medicare Part A is automatic. However, there are several instances where you may have to manually enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your 65th birthday, and ends three months later.

Some situations where you would enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment include:

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):

The IEP is for enrolling in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, but you can generally enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare prescription drug plan, or Medicare Supplement insurance plan during this period. The dates for this period depend on when you become eligible for Medicare. The IEP is usually a 7-month window.

General Enrollment Period (GEP):

If you did not enroll during the IEP when you were first eligible, you can enroll during the General Enrollment Period. This is another opportunity to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B, from January 1 – March 31 each year. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part A and/or Part B if you did not sign up when you were first eligible.

Medicare Special Enrollment Period:

You may choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B when you are first eligible because you are already covered by group medical insurance through an employer or union. If you lose your group insurance, or if you decide you want to switch from your group coverage to Medicare, you can sign up at any time that you are still covered by the group plan or during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

Annual Election Period:

You can change your coverage in several ways (for example, enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan). It runs October 15 – December 7 annually.