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Getting started: Becoming eligible for Medicare

Series of small steps makes your Medicare path manageable

Becoming eligible for Medicare is a milestone. It can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially if healthcare coverage from your employer or your spouse’s employer didn’t involve making many choices.

My goal? Make Medicare clearer so you can make the right health plan choice for you.

Keep in mind, if you’re eligible for Medicare but still have health coverage through work, you can defer your Part B coverage.

If you are ready for Medicare, the helpful people at offer this wise advice: “Talk to your employer (or your spouse’s employer) when you become eligible for Medicare to see how employer insurance will work with Medicare.”

If you’re ready for Medicare, here’s what you need to know to get started.

Most people qualify for Medicare Part A, also known as hospital coverage. Part B covers doctor’s office and other outpatient services, while Part D is prescription drug coverage.

Step 1: Make sure you have Part A or hospital coverage. Find out now at or call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

Step 2: Enroll in Part B or doctor’s office coverage. You have a few options for enrolling in Part B after you find out when you can enroll.

  • Apply online.
  • Visit your local Social Security office.
  • Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. For TTY users, 1-800-325-0778.

Step 3: Explore extra help.

Based on your income and expenses, you could receive help paying for prescription drug coverage. Again, Social Security is your best resource if you don’t already have Medicare coverage through a plan like Health Alliance Medicare. You may apply for extra help online, by mail or at your local Social Security office.

Also, some people choose to work with their financial planner for tax and other purposes. You might do the same.

Step 4 (optional): Set up payment.

While you’re working with Social Security, ask about paying for your coverage directly through you Social Security benefits for easier money management.

Next steps: I hope this has been helpful. Please check out the other helpful portions of this series, as well as our easy-to-understand and easy-to-share Medicare videos:

If you need help with a Medicare milestone—whether you’re enrolling for the first time or carefully assessing your choices for 2017—please visit or

Jana Perry

Jana Perry, Health Alliance vice president of sales and retention, has worked with Medicare Advantage members for more than 20 years.