How to apply for Medicare

Original Medicare consists of two parts, Medicare Part A (Hospital Benefits) and Medicare Part B (Outpatient Benefits). 

Anyone taking social security benefits at or before 65 will be automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B 3 months before turning 65. Your Medicare card will come in the mail and you’ll have the option to opt out of Medicare Part B if needed. 

For all others not taking Social Security income benefits, you’ll need to manually apply for Medicare through Social Security. You can apply in person, online, or over the phone, starting 3 months before the month you turn 65.

How to apply for Medicare in Depth:

Let’s take a look at both Part A and Part B:

Medicare Part A: For most people, there are no premiums associated with Part A. As long as you or a spouse have worked 40 quarters (10 years) in the United States over your lifetime, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A a few months before you turn 65. If you or a spouse have not worked 40 full quarters, you’ll need to enroll in Part A with Social Security and Part A will have a premium. 

Medicare Part B: Part B has a monthly premium based on your income level over the last 2 years. In 2020, the Medicare Part B premium is $144.60 for most people.  This premium can go up each year due to ordinary inflation. People with higher incomes may pay more for Part B, based on the modified adjusted gross income for their household.

Apply for Medicare 

Enrollment in Part B is not automatic like Part A, unless you’ve already decided to take your Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.

To apply for Medicare online, please visit this link: Medicare Benefits

To apply for Medicare by phone contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 ( for TTY users, it’s 1-800-325-0778) and let them know that you would like to apply for your Medicare benefits.

To apply for Medicare in person please visit your local Social Security office. If you need help locating the nearest office, please visit this link: Field Office Locator

The Medicare Part B Initial Enrollment period runs a span of  7 months. It begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and extends 3 months after you turn 65. Please see the illustration below.

If you miss your initial enrollment period, you may have to wait until the next General Enrollment period to apply. This period runs from January 1 until March 31. If you wait until the General Enrollment period, you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty and Part B benefits would go into effect the following July.

After You Enroll in Original Medicare


Now that you have applied for Part A and Part B, you can choose the additional coverage options you need. The deductibles and 20% coinsurance for Parts A and B leave gaps in your coverage and prescription drug coverage is not included, so most people add additional coverage.  

Option 1: Medicare Advantage (Part C)

For Medicare Advantage, your Initial Enrollment Period begins 3 months before the month you are first eligible for Parts A and B, the month you’re first eligible, and the 3 months following. If you miss your Initial Enrollment period, you’ll need to wait until the Annual Election Period (AEP) that runs from October 15 to December 7 to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Elections made during this period will be effective January  1 of the following year. 

Learn more about Medicare Advantage.

Option 2: Medicare Supplements + Part D

For Medicare Supplements, your open enrollment period runs for 6 months and begins the month you are eligible for Part B. You’ll have this period to enroll in a supplement plan without being required to answer health questions. 

If you wish to apply for a supplement later, you may be required to undergo medical underwriting. 

Learn More about Medicare Supplements.

Medicare Part D:

Part D is an optional prescription drug coverage through private insurance carriers. Enrolling in a Part D plan is fairly simple, but you’ll want to make an informed decision. Each prescription drug plan has a different monthly premium, deductible amounts, formulary (list of covered drugs), and pricing structure. Using an independent insurance agent who specializes in Part D products can be helpful in ensuring you get the right plan for your needs and budget.

Learn more about Medicare Part D.

We’re on Your Side

Still have questions or need assistance applying for your Medicare benefits? You’re not alone. AHIC is here to walk you through the process of applying for Medicare or shopping for the plan that’s right for you. Our services are free for you and we’ll be here to help for the lifetime of your policy. 

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