How to Apply Online for Just Medicare
Medicare is a federally-run system that’s aimed to aid individuals who need health insurance coverage the most. Even though these plans are often marketed towards individuals that are ready to retire, it’s also accessible to some individuals below the retirement age as determined by their needs. This guide takes a look at everything you should know about signing up for Medicare online.
Online Application Process for Medicare
Starting an online inquiry for Medicare, begin by visiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) website. Their enrollment page is available here.
When someone completes an online form for Medicare, they’re inquiring for both Medicare Parts A and B. We’ll get into the exact details of those versions entail momentarily. Medicare Part B requires a premium cost, but it’s optional to decline it at the time of this initial application period and only submit a questionnaire for Part A. It is crucial to acknowledge that if the process is revisited for Plan B later on, the person filing for Part B is likely to face a monetary penalty due to this delay.
To begin, you’re required to make an SSA online login which permits users to keep an eye on the status of your appeal as you go through the process. It also allows you to start and return back to your unfinished form later. Even if your plan is to fully finish the process in a single setting, an SSA account login is required to access it.
To make an SSA account, you should have a couple of identifying items handy. This list includes your credit card, W-2 form, and tax forms. These are needed to aid you in handling any security and identification questions that the sign-up process entails. It’s also a good idea to keep your mobile phone handy to receive any emails or texts involved in the authentication process.
From here, all the process entails is to follow the prompted questions. These are fairly straightforward but, just in case, we’ll take you, step-by-step, through the process of filling in the questionnaire shortly.
Benefits of Applying for Medicare Online
Applying for Medicare online, rather than in-person, is a good choice for many reasons. The biggest reason is that it brings you the convenience of technology. You can tackle the application whenever you have the time to do so, no matter where you are.
By comparison, this is much simpler than making a trip into your local Social Security office. This cuts out the time consuming factors of waiting in line and traveling back and forth to the office. Instead, you can jump on your computer and complete the application in about 15 to 20 minutes.
If you’re worried about making mistakes in your application without having a civil servant present to help you, don’t worry. A civil servant will review your application after it’s submitted and if anything is missing or mistaken, you won’t be penalized with disqualification. Instead, they will contact you to ask for any additional information they may need.
Who Can Apply Online for Medicare?
Many times, Medicare comes up in relation to retirement which is because the system does put a heavy focus on retirees and anyone who is 65 years old can sign up. However, that isn’t the only demographic that this program caters to. Individuals who all under the following conditions can also start the process of applying;
- Younger than 65, disabled, as well as a recipient of Social Security benefits
- Diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
- Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
If someone falls within these categories, it’s likely they could access eligibility to, at least, Parts A and B of the program. As it concerns the guideline simply describing an individual with disabilities, this encompasses anyone who’s been on Social Security Disability benefits for a minimum of 2 years. If you have ESRD or ALS, it’s not necessary to meet this wait time before being regarded as a potential candidate.
Another crucial note is that there’s a standard wait time of about five months between the initial social security benefits collection and your disability diagnosis. Once you receive medical coverage, it isn’t required to cater solely to healthcare related to the disability that qualified you.
A general warning when it comes to this is that if users aren’t simultaneously registering for Part A and B, they’re probably going to experience delays as well as a raised coverage cost if they revisit this part later. That situation is avoidable in the case that you’re qualified for a special enrollment period (SEP) but these periods usually aim to cater to individuals 65 years or more. The premium cost associated with this part increases by 10% each time that you opt-out of the annual enrollment period that you were a potential candidate alongside a possible financial cost for tardy registration.
Defining “Parts” of Medicare
The Medicare program isn’t made up of a single, large entity. Instead, a few different types of Medicare exist that include different specialties dependent on an individual’s needs and eligibility. These are divided into Parts A, B, C, and D.
The first part references hospital insurance which encompasses the arm that includes inpatient care and nursing facility stays. As an example, in the case of a car accident, this type of plan would help to cover your limited stay at the hospital and help in covering a period you could need to spend in a rehabilitation nursing facility to recover completely. It must be noted, extended inpatient treatment stays may not be covered by this plan.
Part B is a broader plan option and includes general medical insurance. This covers components such as outpatient medical costs, in-home care, medical equipment, and some other miscellaneous medical and preventative services. In laymen’s terms, this is what covers your standard doctor’s office visits and regular medical needs.
This Part is a combination of A and B but some plans feature the coverage included in Part D as well. Extra benefits under this coverage package can also include routine hearing, vision, and dental care. Additional inclusions like exercise classes are also sometimes featured. This is often considered a “bundle” package for qualifiable individuals.
Medicare Part D includes coverage for prescription drugs. This is actually split into four tiers. Tier 1 has the lowest copayment and will cover most generic prescriptions you might need. The next tier has a slightly higher copayment and covers preferred brand name prescription drugs. For non-preferred names prescription drugs, it’s a good idea to consider tier 3 with a higher copayment.
The highest copayment belongs to the specialty tier. However, this includes the benefit of having help on high-cost prescriptions available to you.
Additional information on your current coverage is denoted on the card that Medicare recipients are sent upon approval.
What Information Is Needed During Registration?
During the application process, you won’t have to worry too much about having documents ready to submit alongside the questionnaire. Yet, there is still some necessary documentation so that you can find answers to the application in them. These are some of the topics that the application will cover.
Entering your date of birth and place of birth is an easy question but you’re going to need additional details if you were born outside of the U.S. Namely, you’re going to need to provide your permanent resident card number. The names and birthdates of your children are also required if they meet the following criteria:
- Unmarried and younger than the age of 18
- Attending secondary school full-time and aged 18 to 19
- Became disabled before they turned 22
If you are married to a current spouse, you’ll need to provide details about them such as their name, where you were married, and the date of the beginning of the marriage. Additionally, it’s optional to provide their birthdate and Social Security Number.
Information on previous spouses is necessary if you were married longer than 10 years or if the marriage ended because of the spouse’s death. You’ll also need to list the date your marriage ended.
Current Health Insurance Details
If you or your spouse have health coverage through an employer with a Group Health Plan, you’ll need to know the start and end dates of that employment. The same rules apply to Group Health Insurance provided by a current employer. The application will also ask you for your state Medicaid number as well as the start and end dates of this plan.
For those that are not self-employed but rather traditionally employed, you need to provide the names, beginning dates, and end dates for any employer you’ve had within the last two years. As a self-employed individual, you’ll be asked to provide your business type along with total net earnings for the previous two years. You can check your Social Security statement at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to aid in this step.
If you served prior military service, you’ll need to disclose the branch, type of duty, and service period dates.
Finally, you’ll need the type of account, account number, and routing number for your bank if you’re using a U.S.-based account. If you use an international bank, you’ll need the following;
- International Direct Deposit bank country (IDD)
- Bank name
- Bank code
- Account type/number
- Transit/branch number
This information is needed to pay the fee for applying. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, this fee, as of 2019, is $586.
Completing the Questionnaire: A Detailed Guide
To start, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/retirement. Despite the address, the URL isn’t just the starting point for retirees. This webpage will prompt you pick between starting a new application or returning to a saved, incomplete one.
At this point, log into your My Social Security account. If you don’t have one already, you’ll have to create one which includes entering the following information;
- Legal name
- Social Security number
- W2 information
- Tax information
- Credit card
- Contact information
Prior to entering the questionnaire itself, you’ll receive a numbered code. This will let you return to the questionnaire later if it isn’t completed in a single session, so make sure to have it on hand.
Next, it will prompt you to submit information about your employment history including employment conditions (whether self-employed or traditionally employed), any military service, and any work for a government agency.
The next page asks details of the benefits you’re hoping for. This includes when you would like those benefits to begin alongside questions about the nature of those benefits. The application does warn, the sooner you set this start date, the smaller those benefits are going to be.
Finally, you’ll see a request to submit the completed file. From there, you’ll get a confirmation number and receipt. You should print the receipt to keep in your records.
What Happens Next?
Once you’ve finished the questionnaire itself and submitted it, they won’t immediately sen an answer concerning whether or not you’ve been accepted or declined. Instead, there are further steps to follow.
The next step starts with a cursory overview. This isn’t a stage in which officials look over your Medicare enrollment application and pass an arbitration but just ensure that the questionnaire is completed correctly and in full. If anything is missing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will reach out to you to resolve those issues.
Afterwards, officials begin to officially consider your submission form by its content to determine if you’re qualified for the insurance program. Once they’ve finished their review, you’ll receive a letter via mail including the decision. In whole, this process takes approximately three weeks beginning with your presentation of your application until an approval verification or rejection arrives.
If the submission is accepted, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services then mail you a “Welcome to Medicare” information packet to introduce newcomers to the program alongside an identifying card. On top of that, you’ll get a “Medicare & You” booklet which covers crucial details regarding your coverage and plan choices. Multiple editions of the included booklet exist but your packet of materials will include the newest edition of it.