Summary: It’s essential to sign up for Medicare Part A as soon as you become eligible for Medicare to avoid gaps in your healthcare coverage. Below, we’ll cover the different ways you can enroll in Medicare Part A and essential considerations to make before doing so. Estimated Read Time: 4 min
How To Apply For Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A provides inpatient coverage for Medicare enrollees. Medicare Part A covers hospital care, skilled nursing care services, home health care, and hospice.
To receive Medicare Part A coverage, you must sign up through the Social Security Administration. There are multiple ways you can apply for Medicare Part A through Social Security:
Online: Applying for Medicare Part A online is an easy and convenient option. To get started, you must visit SSA.gov and create a my Social Security account.
Over the Phone: If you wish to enroll via telephone, call Social Security’s toll-free number (1-800-772-1213).
In-Person: You can apply for Medicare Part A in person by contacting your local Social Security office and setting up an appointment.
Ensure you have the necessary information and documentation to apply for Medicare. If you’re applying in person, you’ll want to take these documents to your appointment. If applying online or over the phone, have all documentation readily available to make the application process quicker.
Some individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B once they become eligible. You do not have to worry about signing up if you are automatically enrolled. You will automatically get Medicare Part A if you meet any of the following requirements:
- You’re already getting benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board before turning 65.
- You’re under 65 and have been receiving disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months
- You have ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease) and apply for Social Security disability benefits (you will get Medicare automatically the month your disability benefits begin)
If you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes while working for 40 or more quarters (10 years), you will qualify for a $0 premium for Medicare Part A. Those who receive Medicare automatically due to a disability will also qualify for a $0 Part A premium.
You can still enroll in Medicare Part A if you do not qualify for the $0 premium. However, you are required to also enroll in Medicare Part B and stay enrolled to keep your Part A coverage. Your monthly premium for Medicare Part A will depend on how long you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes.
Those who must pay a premium for their Medicare Part A coverage should enroll in both Part A and Part B as soon as they are eligible. Waiting to sign up for coverage can result in late enrollment penalties.
Can I Apply For Medicare Part A Only?
It’s common to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B as soon as you are eligible. However, many people who are still working and have creditable health coverage will delay Medicare Part B coverage and sign up for Medicare Part A only.
Most enrollees do not have to pay a monthly premium for their Medicare Part A coverage. You qualify for a $0 premium for inpatient coverage if you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters (about ten years). For this reason, it makes sense to enroll in Medicare Part A as soon as you become eligible.
However, you will be responsible for paying a monthly premium for your Medicare Part B. So, if you still have employer-based coverage, delaying your Medicare Part B coverage may make financial sense until you retire.
When you sign up for Medicare online, you can delay your Medicare Part B coverage and only enroll in Medicare Part A.
If you are automatically enrolled in Medicare because you already receive Social Security benefits, you will be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. You must complete a CMS-1763 form and submit it to Social Security to disenroll from Medicare Part B. As long as you have creditable coverage, you can enroll in Medicare Part B later without a penalty.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up for Medicare Part A
You should make a few considerations before signing up for Medicare Part A.
Do I have to sign up for Medicare Part A? Remember, if you already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B once you turn 65 (or receive disability benefits for 24 months).
Do I have to pay a Medicare Part A premium? If you qualify for Medicare under the age of 65 due to a disability or have worked and paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters, you will have a $0 monthly premium for Part A. If you do not qualify for a $0 premium, you will want to consider your monthly budget, as you will be responsible for paying monthly premiums for both Medicare Part A and Part B.
Do I Want to Delay Medicare Part B? Though delaying Medicare Part B does not affect your Part A coverage, you will want to consider this before applying. Since you can apply for both parts of Medicare at the same time, knowing if you want to delay Part B will help make your application process go quicker.
When Do I Apply for Medicare Part A? Most people apply for Medicare Part A during their Initial Enrollment Period. This seven-month period occurs when you first qualify for Medicare. For many, the Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month, and lasts for three months after.
Learn More About Medicare Part A
Want to get caught up on the latest information about Medicare? We have various resources available to help you stay updated on the latest Medicare news, pricing, coverage information, and more. To learn more about Medicare Part A before enrolling, check out our other Medicare articles.
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Original Medicare (Part A and B) Eligibility and Enrollment, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accessed September 2023
Medicare & You 2023, Medicare. Accessed September 2023