4. When You Miss Your Medicare Enrollment
If you do not sign up for Medicare when you are required, you will encounter serious consequences:
- If you miss your IEP, you can only sign up during the general enrollment period (GEP), which runs from January 1 to March 31. In such a situation, your coverage begins on July 1.
- You will also have to pay late penalties that are 10 percent of the full 12-month period. You must pay Part B penalties for as long as you are on Medicare Part B, and with Part A you will pay twice the number of years that you spent delaying enrollment.
If you are penalized and under the age of 65 but on disability, then the penalty will be waived. Also, if the state pays the fees because you are considered low income, then the penalties will be wiped out.
3. How to Enroll in Medicare
The Social Security Administration handles Medicare enrollment. Any time you are already receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits and you reach Medicare eligibility, the SSA signs you up automatically for Medicare Parts A and B. If not, then you will need to call 800-772-1213 or go to the Social Security website.
Please remember if you are not receiving Social Security benefits at 65, you will not be notified when it is time to enroll in Medicare.
You can sign up for Medicare online at the Social Security website. However, it can be complicated if you need to produce documents to prove eligibility. Often proof of marriage or your spouse’s birth date is required.
2. Signing Up for Medicare While Living Abroad
It is difficult to sign up for Medicare when you are living overseas. Although you cannot use Medicare outside of the United States, you’ll still want to sign up. Remember that delaying enrollment can cost you money from the late fees.
To sign up for Medicare while living abroad, you must contact the U.S. embassy in the country you live in. Visit the international operations page on the Social Security website to learn more.
1. What If You Can’t Afford Medicare?
Medicare does cost money. You will need to pay premiums, copayments, and deductibles. If your income is low, then you might qualify for certain programs to help cover the cost.
- Medicaid: This is a health program for people with low incomes. The rules for qualifying vary from state to state.
- Medicare Savings Programs: You might qualify for a Medicare savings program, which can help you pay copays and the deductible.
- Extra Help: With the Extra Help federal program, you may receive low-cost Part D prescription drug coverage if your income is below a certain level.