How Does Someone Enroll in Medicare Part B

Enrollment

To enroll in Medicare Part B, an applicant must be 65 years of age, not eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A and be a United States resident. To enroll in Medicare Part B, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. Only certain qualified persons can apply by computer.

Coverage

Medicare Part B partially covers costs for doctor services, outpatient hospital care and some physical and occupational therapy services and home health care, depending on the plan type.

When to Enroll

Applicants who meet eligibility requirements have three enrollment options. The initial enrollment period is for those who are turning 65 years of age with or without Social Security benefits. For example, if an applicant's 65th birthday is August 1, 2008, her Medicare effective date would be August 1, 2008. As a Social Security beneficiary, she is automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. The general enrollment period is for those who did not sign up for Medicare Part B at the time of his initial eligibililty (age 65). Enrollment for this period is open from January 1 through March 31 of each year. The special period is for those who did not accept Medicare Part B at the time of eligibility because the applicant or spouse were working and had group health plan coverage through an employer or union. This group can sign up for Medicare Part B during the eight-month period after the employer or union health insurance plan ends. In the event of special circumstances, some applicants will be allowed to enroll outside of these dates or prior to their 65th birthday.