How To Apply For Medicare

Ways To Apply For Medicare


If you are turning 65 soon, it is time to think about applying for Medicare. You have a seven-month window to enroll. Here are three ways to sign up:




  Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


  Go to your local Social Security office.


Keep in mind you should have documents like your Social Security card and your birth certificate handy when you fill out your Medicare application.

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When To Apply For Medicare For The First Time


You have a seven-month window called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) to apply for Medicare:

  • Three months before the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • Three months after the month you turn 65


How Long In Advance Should You Apply For Medicare?


You can apply for Medicare three months before the month you turn 65. If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits four months before your 65th birthday month, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.


When To Enroll In Medicare

Initial Enrollment Period

General Enrollment Period

Annual Enrollment Period

Special Enrollment Period

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The seven-month window around your 65th birthday when you first sign up for Medicare

January 1 to March 31.  Apply for Medicare in case you missed your Initial Enrollment Period

October 15 to December 7.  You can add, change, or drop your Medicare Advantage and/or Part D coverage

Allows you to make changes to your Medicare coverage due to special life circumstances

January 1 to March 31. You can change your Medicare Advantage plan once or drop it

What Documents Do I Need To Apply For Medicare?


When you sign up for Medicare, you might need to provide some documents that show you’re eligible. Medicare and Social Security might already have some of this information when you fill out your Medicare application.


To apply for Medicare, you’ll need:

  • Your Social Security Card
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S citizenship or legal citizenship status documentation if you were not born in the U.S.
  • A copy of your W-2 form

You may also need:

  • Military documents if you receive military or veteran benefits

Know The A, B, C, And Ds of Medicare Coverage


Medicare Part A covers hospital stays and most inpatient services. At 65, you may feel healthy enough to not worry about such coverage. But Part A is important in case you have an unexpected injury or sudden illness that requires inpatient care.


Medicare Part B includes doctor visits, medical tests, X-rays, medical supplies, and preventive care. Part B is your coverage for when you're sick and need to go to the doctor and healthcare visits that help you stay healthy.


A note about Medicare Part A and Part B:
If you've heard the term "Original Medicare," that means Parts A and B. Many people find they need more coverage than offered by Original Medicare. For example, you'll likely need prescription drug coverage and might want routine, dental, vision, and hearing benefits as well. This is where Medicare Parts C and D come in.


Medicare Part C (also called a Medicare Advantage plan) is an all-in-one plan that provides Parts A and B coverage, and often includes prescription drug (Part D) coverage.  Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans can also include dental, vision, and hearing benefits as well as allowances for over-the-counter health items, groceries, fitness memberships and even utilities.


Medicare Part D (also called a Prescription Drug plan) covers prescription drugs. It is especially important if you regularly take prescription medications.


Medicare Parts C and D are only available from private insurance companies like Anthem. 


You must have Part A and Part B to enroll in a Part C plan. You must have Part A and/or Part B to enroll in a Part D plan.


If you don't sign up for Part A, Part B and Part D, when you're first eligible you might have to pay late enrollment penalties, which are added to your monthly premiums for as long as you participate in the plan.

How To Apply For Original Medicare Parts A And B


If you’re getting Social Security benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, you're automatically enrolled in Parts A and B. The Social Security Administration will send you Medicare information and a Medicare card prior to your 65th birthday.


If you are still working and not receiving Social Security benefits, you can sign up for Medicare at any Social Security office or apply for Medicare online. The Social Security Administration offers a  secure online portal  where you can apply easily in about 10 minutes.


If you're still getting healthcare coverage from your employer or your spouse’s employer, you may only need Medicare Part A. This can offset some of the costs your employer's health plan doesn't cover.


You can visit our enrollment page for more information.

How To Apply For A Medicare Advantage (Part C) Or Part D Plan


You can opt for a Medicare Advantage plan to make sure you're also covered for things Part A and Part B do not cover, such as prescription drugs, dental, vision, and hearing aids.


Medicare Advantage plans may also offer other benefits, such as fitness program memberships, transportation to doctor visits, allowances for over-the-counter health-related items, groceries, utilities, and more.


Browse Anthem's  Medicare Advantage plans to find one that fits your needs for more complete healthcare coverage.


Anthem also offers  Part D plans. But remember, Part D is included in most Medicare Advantage plans. If you only need prescription drug coverage, a standalone Part D plan is your best bet.


If you start out with Original Medicare and decide you want a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make that change during your IEP (the seven-month window) or during the Annual Enrollment Period between October 15 and December 7. There are also other life circumstances that give you another window,  the Special Enrollment Period,  to sign up for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

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Read Our Other Medicare Articles

Anthem Blue Cross is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company is an LPPO plan with a Medicare contract. Anthem Blue Cross is an HMO SNP plan with a Medicare contract and a contract with the California Medicaid program. Enrollment in Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company depends on contract renewal.