Ron Elledge is a seasoned Medicare consultant and author of “Medicare Made Easy.” As a Medicare expert, he regularly consults beneficiaries on Medicare rules, regulations, and strategies.
If you qualify for Medicare, there are three options available to enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B:
- Calling the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. TTY users (800) 325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Enroll in person at your local Social Security office. To locate the nearest office, use the office locator. Due to COVID-19, some offices may be closed or have limited hours.
- Online, which is the simplest and quickest way to enroll in Medicare. You will need to create a Social Security account.
Options vary if you worked for the railroad, or if you want to enroll in Medicare Supplement, Advantage, or Part D Drug Plans.
How to Apply for Medicare Online
Applying for Medicare online is a simple process. Follow these steps to apply using the Social Security Administration online service:
- Review the checklist for online applications
- Create or log in to your Social Security account
- Select Medicare Benefits
- Scroll down the page to select Apply for Medicare Only
- Complete the application and select Submit Now and your application will be processed
Benefits of the Online Application Process
Applying online for Medicare benefits allows you to start your application immediately, with no appointment necessary, no delayed phone calls, and no commutes to your local Social Security office. You can apply from the comfort of your home, library, or any computer. You can take your time or take a break and return when you are ready without losing the information you have entered. Your personal information is secured and private.
Apply Online for Medicare Supplement, Advantage, and Drug Plans
Online applications for Medicare Supplement, Advantage, and Part D Prescription Drug Plans are processed through the Medicare.gov website where you can research and sign up for any of these programs. You can find health and drug plans or create an account and log in. Your online account will track your Medicare enrollments and provide current information relative to your Medicare account.
The secure online Plan Comparison Tool will assist you in selecting the policy type you would like to research, whether Medicare Advantage, Drug plans (Part D), or Medigap plans. You can choose to add your prescriptions highly recommended, enter your ZIP code and answer the question concerning any financial help you may receive. Once you choose Next, you will proceed to a screen allowing you to input your medication information which is important for coverage and cost calculations. You may then choose two pharmacies and proceed to the Plan selection page.
If you are looking at Advantage Plans, you can filter by the criteria you are interested in. You can see the Plan name and type of policy ― health maintenance organization (HMO), preferred provider organization (PPO), and so on ― whether it includes drug coverage, the amount of the yearly drug and health deductibles, and copayments for a few major benefits. If you choose the Add to Compare box at the bottom, you can compare major costs for up to three plans at one time.
Medicare Plans Online Research
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) offers tools to research your plan before you enroll online. The two major points to consider are your doctor’s network status and your cost of medications:
- Confirm your doctor is in-network: Choose the Plan Details button you can see details of the program’s coverage and costs as well as access the Provider Network Directory. Be sure to check on all your doctors before making your plan decision.
- Understand the scope and cost of medications: Research your medications carefully. Examine available plans to see what the total cost and copayment for your medications would be, how much you will pay for the Part D yearly deductible, and what coverage the plans offer in the Donut Hole. Whether you are researching Medicare Advantage or Part D Drug Plans, you will be able to see which programs include your medications in their formularies.
Make sure you take note of the tier level and copayment for each drug and, before enrolling in a plan, check and see how they handle the following medication restrictions:
- Quantity Limits (QL): Drug Plans may limit the number of certain drugs allowed. For example, you may be allowed only 30 tablets every 30 days.
- Prior Authorization (PA): You must get prior authorization for certain drugs. You will need to get approval from the plan to fill your prescriptions. Your doctor may need to demonstrate that the medication is medically necessary.
- Step Therapy (ST): In some cases, plans require you to try certain less expensive drugs to treat your medical condition before they will cover another more expensive drug for that condition. If your doctor feels the prescribed medication is the only one that will work properly, they can file a request for an exception on your behalf. If the exception is granted, you will be able to continue taking the drug the doctor prescribed. If the request is turned down, you may appeal the decision.
- Limited Access (LA): Some plans may designate specific pharmacies that must be used for certain drugs.
Once you have done your due diligence, you may follow a link to each plan’s website for further information or enroll in the plan directly from the Plan Finder.
Learn More From Our Sources
- Medicare | Medicare.gov | Last accessed March 2023
- Medicare | How Original Medicare Works | Last accessed March 2023
- Medicare | Plan compare tool | Last accessed March 2023
- SSA | Medicare Benefits | Last accessed March 2023
- SSA | My Account | Last accessed March 2023
- SSA | Medicare Online Application Checklist | Last accessed March 2023