What you should know
1. If you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare, you can enroll online through the Social Security Administration (SSA). 2. Before you enroll in Medicare, research your coverage options, create your personal account, complete the online application, and confirm your enrollment.
3. Use Medicare’s online tool to research and compare Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans available in your area. 4. You can pay your Medicare health coverage premiums online or through the mail.

The best way to apply for Medicare is online. The Social Security Administration (SSA) handles your Medicare application and enrollment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can only enter social security offices if you have an appointment. Services are also available online and by phone or fax.

Applying for Medicare online is quick and easy. Doing so offers many advantages, such as the ability to start your application immediately rather than waiting for an appointment. You also don’t need to complete the application in one sitting. You can stop and restart without losing previously entered information. In fact, there is never a reason why it would be better to apply in-person than online, according to the SSA.

Not everyone needs to enroll in Medicare, however. If you’re a U.S. resident already receiving Social Security benefits before your 65th birthday, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Since Part B carries a premium, you can opt out of this coverage. If you’re a resident of Puerto Rico or a foreign country, SSA won’t automatically enroll you in Part B so you won’t have to opt out but will need to enroll to receive the benefit.

If you haven’t started receiving your Social Security benefit within three months of turning 65 and don’t want to start receiving it but do want Medicare coverage, you should apply for Medicare online.

How do I apply for Medicare online?

To get started applying for Medicare online, CMS directs applicants to Medicare.gov’s “Get started with Medicare” page, which includes a PDF checklist to help you navigate the process. These are the basic steps:

  • Research your Medicare coverage options
  • Create an account to enroll in Medicare
  • Complete the online Medicare application
  • Confirm your Medicare enrollment

Research your Medicare coverage options

Before you do your Medicare enrollment online, you should compare your Medicare options or speak with a Medicare specialist to help you determine the plan or plans that will best suit your medical and financial needs. “Plan selection is a very serious decision, so confidence in your selection is of the utmost importance,” says John Norce, president of Medicare assistance firm MedicarePortal.

Medicare.gov provides free online comparison tools to help you evaluate your Medicare coverage options and research local providers, hospitals and nursing homes. These tools allow users to research at their own pace, says a CMS spokesperson. Others prefer speaking with a Medicare Call Center specialist and state-based counselors, or consulting a trusted agent/broker to help compare and enroll. Free counseling on Medicare options is also available through individual State Health Insurance Assistance Programs at shiptacenter.org, or by phone through 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Create an account to enroll in Medicare

Once you know the parts of Medicare you want to apply for, you can begin the online application process. You’ll first need to create a my Social Security account at ssa.gov.

Complete the online Medicare application

The SSA provides a checklist for online Medicare applications that specifies the information you’ll need to create a Social Security account and complete the Medicare online application.

“Note (that) you must be within 90 days of your 65th birthday for this to be applicable,” Norce says. “If you had a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), for example working past 65 with employer insurance, you can apply online via Medicare’s secure online application specifically for this situation.”

In order to complete an online application under the SEP for loss of employer coverage, you’ll either need a completed CMS-L564 form from your employer or to provide additional information, such as pay stubs showing your insurance premium payments, a copy of your current year ID or a tax return indicating your insurance payments, Norce says. “You will need to convert these documents to a PDF or such, as you will be required to upload as verification of your Special Enrollment Period during the online application process,” adds Norce.

Confirm your Medicare enrollment

You should also be aware that applying for Medicare for the first time is a two step process, You’ll first need to submit an application online then open an email from SSA to confirm your enrollment.

“Failure to (confirm enrollment) could result in your application being incomplete and therefore not submitted,” Norce says.

To submit an application for Medicare online, go to ssa.gov/benefits/medicare and select the blue button for “Apply for Medicare Only” about halfway down the page. This will take you to a secure page to begin your application.

Do I have to pay for Medicare online?

Do I have to pay for Medicare online?

If you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement (RRB) benefits, your Medicare premium will be deducted from your monthly benefit. If you aren’t receiving benefits, you’ll get a bill to pay your Part B, Part D and Part A, if you buy it, premiums. If you only buy Part B, you’ll get a bill every 3 months. Bills for Parts A and D will come every month.

You do not have to pay your Medicare bill online. There are four ways you can pay your bill:

  • Through the mail by filling out the payment coupon attached to your bill
  • Online through your Medicare account
  • Directly from your checking or savings account using online billpay
  • Medicare Easy Pay, a free service that automatically deducts your premium from your bank account each month

If you choose to pay via mail, you’ll need to mail your payment and coupon to:

Medicare Premium Collection Center

PO Box 790355

St. Louis, MO 63179-0355

Can I apply for Medicare supplements online?

Once you’ve enrolled in Medicare, you can sign up for Medicare supplement plans online. The best time to enroll in Medigap is during your initial six-month Open Enrollment Period (OEP) that begins the month you’re 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. This is when you’ll generally get the best prices and most policy choices. Your OEP cannot be changed or repeated.

Applications for Medigap outside of your OEP may be denied. Some states may instead allow you to buy Medicare SELECT, another type of Medigap policy.

You can find a Medigap policy that provides coverage near you through Medicare.gov’s search portal.

Can I apply for Medicare Advantage Plans online?

You can apply for some Medicare Advantage Plans online. All plans must provide the option to apply with a paper application, but not all offer online application services. You’ll need to visit the plan’s website to determine if they allow you to join online and obtain the proper enrollment forms. You’ll need to provide your Medicare number and the date your Part A and Part B coverage began, both of which can be found on your Medicare card.

You can use Medicare’s Plan Finder to get more information about Medicare Advantage Plans and find their respective contact information.

Can I apply for Medicare prescription coverage (Part D) online?

You can apply for Medicare prescription coverage online through the Medicare Plan Finder or the plan’s website. You can also apply for prescription drug coverage through a paper enrollment form or by calling the plan or Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE.

When applying for Medicare prescription coverage, you’ll need to provide your Medicare Number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage began, both of which can be found on your Medicare card.

This expert was consulted for insight into applying for Medicare online.

John Norce, president of Medicare assistance firm MedicarePortal

Medicare consultant

LeRon Moore has guided Medicare beneficiaries and their families as a Medicare professional since 2007. First as a Medicare provider enrollment specialist and now a Medicare account executive, Moore works directly with Medicare beneficiaries to ensure they understand Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans.

Moore holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University and is A+ Certified with a Medical Records Clerk Certification and Medical Terminology Certification from Midlands Technical College.

He’s passionate about educating, informing, and resolving issues concerning Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans, and considers it imperative that he does all he can to educate and inform the senior community as much as possible about Medicare.