As you get started with Medicare, you have a choice in how you get your Medicare coverage. And, there are some important decisions for you to make. Follow these 3 steps to help you get started:

1. Sign Up For Medicare Through Social Security

If you're over 65 (or turning 65 in the next 3 months) and not already getting benefits from Social Security, you need to sign up to get Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance and Medicare Part B Medical Insurance. You won't get Medicare automatically.


You can sign up for Medicare on-line  or contact Social Security. Social Security will review your records to see if you qualify for Medicare.

  • What do I need to know before I sign up for Medicare?

  • When will I receive my Medicare Card?

 You will receive in the mail an official "Welcome to Medicare" packet with important information about your coverage options and your official "Medicare and You" handbook once you're enrolled and every year each fall. You will also receive mail from private insurance companies, agents and brokers, marketing the Medicare plans they offer. It is important for you to read all of the materials in the packet. (If you live in Puerto Rico, you'll only get Part A. If you want Part B, you need to sign up for it.) People get Medicare coverage in different ways. You'll get lots of information to help you make a decision about how to get your Medicare coverage.

2. Choose your Coverage

There are 2 Main Ways to get Medicare Coverage:

Original Medicare – Includes Part A and Part B. You can use any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare, anywhere in the U.S.

If you don't get Part D or a Medigap policy when you're first eligible, you may have to pay more to get this coverage later. For Part D, this could mean a lifetime premium penalty.

Medicare Advantage – An "all in one" alternative to Original Medicare. These "bundled" plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D. Most plans offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn't cover – like vision, hearing, dental, and more.

  • Plans may have lower out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare.

  • In most cases, you'll need to use doctors who are in the plan's network.


Medicare Plan Finder can help you compare all of your options and find what best meets your needs.

3. Complete Your "Year 1: Medicare Checklist"

During your first year with Medicare, follow this checklist to get the most out of your Medicare coverage and be prepared in case of emergency.