Call us at 1-800-930-2836 (TTY 711)

Getting Started with Medicare

When (and how) to enroll in Medicare Parts A & B

So you’re going to be turning 65, the age when most people first become eligible for Medicare. Now what? Well, depending on your individual situation, you may or may not have to enroll in Medicare.

Most people age 65 and older who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. are eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) without paying a monthly plan premium. You're eligible for free Medicare Part A if you are 65 and:

  • You receive or will be eligible for Social Security benefits.
  • Or you receive or will be eligible for Railroad Retirement benefits.
  • Or you or your spouse (living, deceased, or divorced) had employment where Medicare taxes were paid for 40 or more quarters.

If you do not fit into any of these groups, you can still get Medicare Part A by paying a monthly plan premium if you are a U.S. citizen or have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. and lived here for at least five years.

You are eligible for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) if you are eligible for Part A. Part B is optional and you will need to pay a premium based on your income.

IF YOU... THEN...
Plan to retire at age 65 or are not working and don't already receive Social Security You can enroll in Medicare benefits.
Already receive Social Security retirement, disability, or Railroad Retirement benefits You'll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.
Are currently covered by an employer-provided group health plan Talk to your human resources department before you enroll in Medicare.
Plan to continue working past age 65 You have the option to delay enrolling in Medicare Part B—which may affect when you can enroll in coverage in a Medicare Supplement insurance policy, a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D prescription drug plan.

Note: If you’re under 65 and eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or End Stage Renal Disease, you’ll automatically get Part A and Part B after you get disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months.

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Keep in mind you must be enrolled in Medicare before you can purchase other coverage to help pick up where Medicare leaves off, for extra protection. If you’re turning 65, the best time to enroll in Medicare is during the three months before your 65th birthday. This can help ensure that you can enroll in other coverage options and have benefits ready when you turn 65.

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Enrolling in Medicare
 When to enroll in Medicare

Your Initial Enrollment Period is a seven-month timeframe. It includes:

  • The three months before the month you turn 65,
  • Your birth month, and
  • The three months after your birth month.

 What you’ll need when you’re ready to enroll
  • An original or certified copy of your birth certificate,
  • Any W-2 forms you have from the last two years, and
  • Your Social Security card or number.

 Where to go, who to call

You can enroll in Medicare in person or by mail. Visit the Social Security Administration office nearest you or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to request an application. Once completed, you’ll receive your red, white and blue Medicare card in the mail.

Keep in mind you must be enrolled in Medicare before you can purchase other coverage to help pick up where Medicare leaves off, for extra protection. If you’re turning 65, the best time to enroll in Medicare is during the three months before your 65th birthday. This can help ensure that you can enroll in other coverage options and have benefits ready when you turn 65.

Medicare beneficiaries may also enroll in BlueCross Total (PPO), BlueCross Secure (HMO), BlueCross Rx Value (PDP) and BlueCross Rx Plus (PDP) through the CMS Online Enrollment Center at www.medicare.gov.

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is a Medicare Advantage PPO and HMO plan with a Medicare contract. BlueCross Rx Value and BlueCross Rx Plus are stand-alone prescription drug plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in BlueCross Total, BlueCross Secure, BlueCross Rx Value or BlueCross Rx Plus depends on contract renewal.

You must continue to pay your Part B premium. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums, copayments or coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year.

Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Medicare members, except in emergency situations. For a decision about whether we will cover an out-of-network service, we encourage you or your provider to ask us for a pre-service organization determination before you receive the service. Please call Customer Service or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services.

Current members should call Customer Service at 1-855-204-2744 for additional information. (TTY users should call 711). Hours are seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 1, 2019, to Mar. 31, 2020.  Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all other times.

If you are not a member, call us at 1-800-930-2836 (TTY users should call 711). We are available for phone calls from October 1 to December 31; you can call us 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week. From January 1 to September 30, we’re here 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Calls to this number are answered by a licensed insurance agent.

BlueCare and Blue Select are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the Federal Medicare Program. These policies have limitations and exclusions.

Last Updated Date: 10.1.2018
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