If you are eligible for Medicare and already have Part A coverage, you may be wondering if you need to sign up for Part B as well. Many people get Part A automatically when they turn 65 or start receiving Social Security disability benefits. But Part B requires active enrollment. Here’s what to know about signing up for Medicare Part B if you already have Part A.
What is Medicare Part B?
Medicare Part B is medical insurance that helps cover doctors’ services, outpatient care, preventive services, ambulance services, and durable medical equipment. It also covers mental health services like visits with psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.
Part B helps pay for medically necessary services and supplies whether you get care in a doctor’s office, hospital outpatient department, ambulatory surgical center, or any other healthcare facility. It also covers some services you get at home like durable medical equipment, mental health care, and physical and occupational therapy.
Who is Eligible for Medicare Part B?
If you are age 65 or older and are a U.S. citizen or legal resident who has lived in the United States for at least 5 years in a row, you are likely eligible for Part B. You may also qualify for Part B before age 65 if you have a disability or get diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.
People who are eligible for premium-free Part A are also eligible for Part B. So if you already qualified for and enrolled in Part A, you can sign up for Part B as well.
When Can I Enroll in Medicare Part B?
You have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B that starts 3 months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after you turn 65. Your Part B coverage start date will depend on when you enroll:
- If you enroll during the 3 months before you turn 65, your coverage starts the first day of your birthday month.
- If you enroll during the month you turn 65, your coverage will start 1 month after you sign up.
- If you enroll during the 3 months after you turn 65, your coverage will start 2-3 months after you sign up.
It’s important to enroll in Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid a late enrollment penalty. This permanently increases your monthly Part B premium if you don’t have other coverage like through an employer.
What If I Missed My Initial Enrollment Period for Part B?
If you didn’t sign up for Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll between January 1 – March 31 each year. Your coverage will then start July 1. This is called the General Enrollment Period.
However, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you didn’t have other health coverage during the periods when you could have enrolled in Part B but didn’t. The late enrollment penalty is 10% for each 12-month period that you delays Part B and didn’t have other coverage. You’ll have to pay this penalty each month for as long as you have Part B.
There are some exceptions where you can enroll late Sep and not have to pay the penalty, like if you’re still working and have group health coverage through your job.
How Do I Actually Sign Up for Medicare Part B?
You can apply for Medicare Part B in one of these ways:
- Online: Visit the Social Security website and create a My Social Security account to submit your enrollment request electronically.
- In person: Make an appointment to apply at your local Social Security office.
- By phone: Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to enroll by telephone.
- By mail: Contact Social Security and request that they mail you a Medicare Part B application form to fill out.
When applying, you will need to provide personal information like your name, birth date, Social Security number, and contact information. You may also need to submit proofs like tax returns, W-2s, pay stubs, and marriage certificates if relevant to your situation.
After enrolling, you should receive your Medicare card showing your Part B coverage within 30 days if you applied online or in person. It may take longer if you enroll by mail.
When Does Medicare Part B Coverage Begin?
As mentioned above, your Part B start date depends on when you enroll:
- If you enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period, coverage begins the month you turn 65 or up to 3 months after you sign up if you enroll later.
- If you enroll during the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31, your coverage will start on July 1.
- If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to certain life events like losing a job, your coverage starts the month after you enroll.
Be sure to only end other health coverage like employer group plans once your Part B coverage kicks in to avoid gaps in coverage.
How Much Does Medicare Part B Cost?
The standard Part B premium for 2023 is $164.90 per month. However, if your income is above a certain amount, you may pay more. Premiums are deducted from your Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, or Civil Service benefit checks. If you don’t get these benefit payments, Medicare bills you directly for your premiums each month.
In addition to the monthly premium, you will have to pay a yearly Part B deductible of $226 in 2023 before coverage begins. After meeting this deductible, you typically pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for covered services.
There are also copays and coinsurance amounts for some services. And if you don’t enroll in Part D prescription drug coverage, you’ll pay more for most drugs.
Can I Get Help Paying for Medicare Part B?
If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for help from Medicare to pay for some health care costs including Part B premiums. Some Medicare Savings Programs can help pay your premiums and may also lower your deductibles and copays if you meet eligibility criteria.
To qualify, you must have Part A and enroll in Part B. Your income and asset limits depend on which program you apply for. You can contact your state Medicaid office or local Social Security office to learn more and apply.
What If I Have Job-Based Health Coverage?
If you or your spouse is still working and you have health coverage through that employer, you may choose to delay Part B enrollment without penalty. You can sign up within 8 months after your employment ends and this group health plan coverage is no longer available without owing a late fee.
Be sure to check with your benefits administrator before ending employer coverage to enroll in Medicare to avoid gaps in coverage. It may make sense to keep the employer plan if it offers better coverage. Many allow you to enroll in Part A while delaying Part B without risk of penalty.
Can I Get a Medigap Plan With Just Part A?
Unfortunately, you can’t purchase a Medigap Plan to supplement just Original Medicare Part A. Medigap policies only work alongside Part B coverage.
Once your Part B becomes active, you can enroll in a Medigap Plan within 6 months without having to answer health questions. These plans help pay Medicare deductibles, copays and coinsurance amounts.
If you’ve had Part A for more than 6 months before getting Part B, you may have to go through medical underwriting to get a Medigap policy. It’s best to time things so you can sign up immediately once Part B starts.
What’s the Difference Between Part A and Part B?
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance that covers inpatient stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice, and some home health services. You typically don’t pay a premium for Part A if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for a minimum of 10 years.
Medicare Part B is medical insurance that covers doctor’s services, many preventive services, durable medical equipment, lab tests, X-rays, mental health services, ambulances, and more. Nearly everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B.
Part A helps cover major medical events requiring hospital admission while Part B covers outpatient and preventive care to keep you healthy. That’s why it’s so important to enroll in both as soon as possible when first eligible to prevent gaps in coverage.
- If you have Original Medicare Part A, you can also enroll in Part B during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period around age 65.
- It’s best to sign up when first eligible to avoid lifelong late enrollment penalties if you delayed Part B without other coverage.
- You can enroll online, by phone, in person, or by mail by contacting Social Security.
- Review when your coverage will begin so there are no gaps between when other insurance ends and Medicare starts.
- Income-related premiums and deductibles apply to Part B, but assistance programs can help lower costs.
- Those with job-based health plans can often delay Part B enrollment without penalty.
- You can’t get a Medigap Plan until your Part B coverage kicks in.
Enrolling in Medicare Part B is an important step to get comprehensive medical coverage. Now that you know the basics of signing up for Part B if you already have Part A, you can take action at the right time to avoid coverage issues.
We’re Here to Help
You do not have to spend hours reading articles on the internet to get answers to your Medicare questions. Give the licensed insurance agents at Glidden Group a Call at (208) 962-0077. You will get the answers you seek in a matter of minutes, with no pressure and no sales pitch. We are truly here to help.
What is the Medicare initial enrollment period?
The initial enrollment period is the 7 month period including the 3 months before, the month of, and 3 months after you turn 65 when you can sign up for Medicare without penalty.
What if I missed enrolling in Medicare at 65?
If you missed your initial enrollment period, you may have to pay late enrollment penalties but can sign up during the general enrollment period from January 1 to March 31.
When will my Medicare coverage start if I enroll on time?
If you enroll during your initial period, your Medicare coverage will start on the first day of the month you turn 65.
What if my other health coverage is ending soon?
If your group health plan coverage is ending, you have a special 8 month period to enroll in Medicare Part B without penalty.
How do I get Medicare if I’m already receiving Social Security?
If you already get Social Security benefits when you’re 65, you’ll automatically get a Medicare card and can sign up for Part B online.
Where can I find Medicare enrollment forms?
Contact the Social Security Administration to request the forms and evidence of employment if you have job-based coverage when eligible.
What are Medicare Advantage Plans?
Medicare Advantage Plans are Medicare-approved private plans that provide all Medicare Part A and Part B benefits and often include drug coverage.
When is the Medicare general enrollment period?
The general enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year for anyone who needs to enroll in Medicare Part B outside their initial period.
Should I get Part B if I already have health coverage at 65?
Yes, you should enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial period even if you have other coverage to avoid penalties.
How do I create a MyMedicare.gov account?
Visit MyMedicare.gov to securely create your online Medicare account to conveniently manage your personal info, benefits, and enrollment.