Medicare is the federally funded medical plan for Americans age 65 and over that covers medical expenses such as doctor's visits, hospital stays, drugs and other treatment.
Essentially, all Americans are eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. After an initial seven-month enrollment period that begins three months before your 65th birthday, enrollees may be subject to fees and penalties.
The program is divided into three parts: Part A, Part B, and Part D. Part A is called hospital insurance and covers most hospital stay costs as well as some follow-up costs. Part B, medical insurance, pays some doctor and outpatient care costs. Part D covers some prescription drug costs.
How can I enroll in Medicare?
- If you are already receiving Social Security when you turn 65, you will automatically get both Medicare Part A and Part B on the first day of the month in which you turn 65. A card will be mailed to you about three months before your birthday. The Medicare card is red, white and blue and will include your name and Medicare number.
- If you are not receiving Social Security when you turn 65, you should go to your local Social Security office to enroll in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday. You have seven months to enroll in Medicare without penalties starting three months before the month you turn 65. In some cases, you can avoid the penalty if you or your spouse is still working. Call 1-800-772-1213 for the address of your local Social Security office.
- If you are disabled and have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for at least 21 months, you should get your Medicare card three months before you become eligible for Medicare. If you have kidney disease, you should enroll at your local Social Security office. If you have ALS, you will become eligible for Medicare as soon as you begin receiving Social Security disability benefits.
- To enroll in Part D, Medicare's drug coverage, you have to join a Medicare private drug plan offered in your area. For most people, enrollment in Part D is optional. When deciding whether to join a Medicare private drug plan, you might find the drug plan comparison search on www.medicare.gov helpful, or you can call 1-800-MEDICARE.
If you have further questions or are having difficulties with any part of Medicare, please call Congresswoman Lowey’s Office at 914-428-1707 or 845-639-3485.