Who's eligible for Original Medicare?
You may qualify if you meet any of these criteria:
- Age 65 and over, and a U.S. citizen or legal resident
- Receiving Social Security retirement benefits
- Disabled and receiving disability
- Have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
- Diagnosed with/have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease)
When can I enroll in Medicare?
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Medicare's Initial Enrollment Period spans 7 months around your 65th birthday - you can enroll 3 months before, the month of, and up to 3 months after.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
Do you want to make changes to your Medicare coverage? There's an Annual Election Period (AEP) when you can sign up for, change, or disenroll from the plan.
The AEP runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. If you didn't sign up for one of these plans when you first became eligible for Medicare (during your Initial Enrollment Period), the AEP is generally your chance to make these changes, unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
What changes can you make during the AEP?
Here's a quick rundown of what you can do during the Annual Enrollment Period:
Changes you make during the AEP go into effect January 1 of the next year.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
There are cases where an individual may enroll in Medicare outside of regular enrollment periods due to extenuating circumstances. This is known as the Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you qualify for the Medicare Special Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Medicare outside of your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
If you are 65 or older and are covered under a group health plan, either from your own or your spouse's current employment, you have a Special Enrollment Period during which you can sign up for Medicare Part B. This means that you may delay your decision to enroll in Medicare Part B without having to wait for the General Enrollment Period and without having to pay the 10% premium penalty for late enrollment.
Most people get Medicare Part A without paying a premium if they've worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes. However, if you don't have enough work history to get premium-free Medicare Part A and delay Medicare enrollment when you turn 65 because you have employer-sponsored coverage, you can also use your Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A. Otherwise, a late-enrollment penalty could apply for Medicare Part A if you don't enroll when you're first eligible and need to pay a premium.
Under such circumstances, you may:
If you do not enroll in Medicare by the end of the eight-month period, you will have to wait until the next General Enrollment Period, which begins January 1 of the next year. You also may have to pay a higher premium for Medicare Part B. If you don't qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A, you may owe a late-enrollment penalty for Part A as well.
People who receive Social Security disability benefits and are covered under a group health plan, from either their own or a family member's current employment, also have a Medicare Special Enrollment Period. For more information on situations that may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, seven days a week; TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
How do I enroll in Medicare?
You must enroll in Medicare yourself by contacting your local Social Security office. You can do that in person at a Social Security office, or by phone 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
How do I enroll in a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Medicare plan?
You can enroll in Blue Advantage if you are both:
An Alabama resident and entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
You can enroll in any other Medicare supplement if you are:
An Alabama resident who is enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you receive full Medicaid or Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) program benefits, you are not eligible to purchase any other Medicare supplement.
Note:Persons with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) may not be able to enroll due to federal guidelines.