Depending on which part of Medicare you choose to enroll in, the application process and next steps may vary. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of Medicare and what you can expect after you sign up.

If you enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B)

After you apply for Original Medicare, you should be provided a reference number that you can use to check the status of your application. You can check the status in one of the following ways:

Once the Medicare office has processed your application, you’ll receive a letter notifying you if you have been accepted and when your Medicare coverage takes effect. You will also receive a red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail.

Automatic enrollment in Original Medicare

If you’ve been receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least four months prior to your 65th birthday, then you should be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. The benefits begin on the first day of the month of your 65th birthday.

You’ll also be automatically enrolled if you have a disability, are under the age of 65 and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. This also happens after individuals receive certain disability benefits for 24 months from the Railroad Retirement Board.

If you enroll in Medicare Advantage or Part D

If you enroll directly through a health insurance company, then you can expect to receive updates for your application directly from them. If you use a health insurance agent or broker, they should be able to give you information on the status of your application.

Either way, if additional information is needed to process your enrollment, you’ll be notified.

If your application has been approved, you should receive written notice with the effective start date of your coverage. You can also expect to receive your Welcome Packet and ID cards within seven to 10 days of approval.

Once you receive your Welcome Packet, we recommend that you review your plan details and get familiar with your benefits and costs.

If you enroll during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which takes place from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year, then your coverage will not take effect any earlier than Jan. 1 of the following year. For example, if you submit your application on Oct. 15, 2021, your effective start date of coverage will be Jan. 1, 2022.

Because the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is a very busy time for health insurance companies, it can take longer than the standard seven to 10 business days to receive your approval and policy details. Some insurance companies do not process enrollments until after AEP has ended.

Remember not to drop your existing coverage until coverage under your new Medicare plan has started.

If you enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan

Depending on when you enroll in Medicare Supplement, the enrollment process is very different.

If you enroll during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which is a six-month period that starts the first month you’re covered under Medicare Part B and you’re 65 or older, then you cannot be denied a Medicare Supplement policy or charged more due to past or present health problems.

Once you submit your application, it will be reviewed by the health insurance company, and you will be notified of your approval and effective start date of coverage. You can also expect to receive your Welcome Packet and ID cards within seven to 10 days of approval.

If you enroll for Medicare Supplement coverage outside of your Open Enrollment Period, then you are subject to medical underwriting and possible higher rates. After you submit your application, the health insurance company can deny your application or increase your premium due to health issues. If either of these occur, you will be notified by the health insurance company.

If you enroll using a health insurance broker or agent, they can help answer your questions and keep you updated on the status of your application. Otherwise, you can contact the health insurance company directly for more information.

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