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New to Medicare


New to Medicare? If you are turning 65 and have worked for at least 10 years (during which time you paid Medicare taxes), you will be eligible to enroll in Medicare. Additionally, if you are receiving Social Security disability income, you will be able to enroll in Medicare. You may also qualify for Medicare if you have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (also referred to as kidney failure) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).

Enrolling in Medicare


Receiving Medicare Automatically

Medicare Plan Enrollment WashingtonYou may qualify for Medicare and be automatically enrolled if one of the following applies:

  • Already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
  • Receiving benefits from Social Security due to a disability
  • Have Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)

If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday, or during your 25th month of disability. If you are diagnosed with ALS, you’ll automatically get Medicare Parts A and B the month your disability benefits begin.

Enrolling in Medicare

Not everyone is automatically enrolled in Medicare. For example, you may need to enroll yourself if:

  • You aren’t currently receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) (for example, because you’re still working)
  • You have End-Stage Renal Disease (Kidney Failure)
Initial Medicare Enrollment Period

You can join Medicare Parts A, B and D during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is the seven-month window surrounding the month of your 65th birthday, starting 3 months before your birth month and ending 3 months afterwards.

Other Medicare enrollment periods if you enroll after you turn 65:
  • Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B: If you’ve been covered by insurance through a current job (or a spouse’s current job), you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B up to eight months after the job or the insurance ends.
  • Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D: If you’ve had prescription drug coverage through a current job (or a spouse’s current job) and it was creditable coverage, you can enroll in Medicare Part D up to 63 days after the job or insurance ends.
  • General Enrollment Period: Annual General Enrollment occurs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 7 each year. If you enroll at this time, your coverage will start Jan. 1, but you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty if you were eligible to enroll in Medicare previously. Because of this, it is generally advised to enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible.

During Your First Year of Medicare


During your first year of Medicare, it is highly recommended that you do the following:

  • If you want your family or friends to be able call Medicare on your behalf, you must fill out this Authorization Form (PDF download). Medicare will not be able to discuss your personal health information with anyone unless you give permission in writing beforehand.
  • Make an appointment for the “Welcome to Medicare” Preventive Visit during the first 12 months you have Medicare. This is a free, one-time comprehensive preventive visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health. This visit also includes basic screenings that you would receive during a regular wellness checkup such as weight, height, and blood pressure readings. You will also receive a written plan letting you know which screenings, shots, and other preventive services you need. You can also receive s education and counseling about preventive services, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.
  • Sign up for MyMedicare.gov. This is Medicare’s secure online service where you are able to access your Medicare information at any time. You will be able to track health care claims, check the status of your Part B deductible, order a replacement Medicare card, find out more information about your plan and its coverage, and more.
  • Review the services covered by Medicare. Click on each option for more information about Medicare’s coverage for each service. If a service you need isn’t listed, speak to your doctor about why you need that certain service or treatment, and if Medicare will cover it.

Washington State Medicare Plans

This page last updated 9/24/2015