You don't have to sign up for Medicare online, but if you're trying to save time, completing an online application may be the best way to go.
- Start by creating an account on the Social Security Administration’s site
- You’ll need basic information – including birth certificate, driver’s license, or proof of U.S. citizenship
- Decide whether to enroll in Part A only – or Parts A and B
- Enroll on time or risk a Part B premium surcharge
Q: What information do I need to enroll in Medicare online?
A: Applying for Medicare online is easy and requires information that you’ll likely have on hand.
Your initial enrollment window for Medicare spans seven months, beginning three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ending three months after that month. During this time, you have the option to sign up for Medicare online. The process is fairly simple and should take 15 minutes or less.
How to enroll in Medicare online
To be clear, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare online. You can do so over the phone or in person, but if you’re looking to save time, completing an online application is probably the best way to go.
The first step in enrolling in Medicare online is creating an account on the Social Security Administration’s web site. You do not need to sign up for Social Security at the same time as Medicare, so if that’s not your plan, worry not. You’ll be asked whether you wish to enroll in one program or both during the signup process.
Next, you’ll need to provide some basic information like your name, address, and telephone number, and you’ll also need your Social Security number to complete your application. In addition, you’ll need information that helps identify you, such as your birth certificate, driver’s license, or proof of U.S. citizenship if you weren’t born in the U.S. If you’re not a citizen, you’ll need your permanent resident card number.
Deciding on Medicare’s Part A and B
Now here comes the slightly tricky part. When you sign up for Medicare, you’ll need to decide whether to enroll in Part A only, which pays for hospital care, or Parts A and B in order to also have coverage for outpatient and physician services. Part B covers things like office visits, preventive care, and lab work, but it also covers services such as chemotherapy, radiation, and kidney dialysis..
You’ll pay a premium to enroll in Part B, so if you’re still working and are covered by a group health plan through your employer, it often pays to sign up for Part A alone, which doesn’t charge a premium. To do so, however, you’ll need to provide the start date of your employment and the date your group healthcare coverage began. That may require some digging through records if you’ve been with your employer a long time.
Keep in mind that if your spouse is the one employed with access to a group health plan, and you’re covered by that plan as well, you can still sign up for Part A alone yourself. But you’ll need your spouse’s employment and coverage start date to complete your application.
It pays to enroll on time
If you miss your initial enrollment window to sign up for Medicare, you can do so later on. But know this: For each 12-month period you’re eligible for coverage but don’t apply, you’ll risk a 10% surcharge on your Part B premiums.
If you’re still working during your initial enrollment period and have group health coverage, you’ll get a special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare later on, and you won’t have to worry about that penalty. But otherwise, enrolling on time can not only save you money, but ensure that you have coverage when you need it.
Maurie Backman has been writing professionally for well over a decade, and her coverage area runs the gamut from healthcare to personal finance to career advice. Much of her writing these days revolves around retirement and its various components and challenges, including healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, and money management.