The most frequent question we get is: “What steps do I need to complete in order to get my Medicare coverage into effect?”

Here is a checklist of WHAT you need to do and WHEN you need to do it!

Problem: Insurance companies and agents across the state buy lists of people turning 65 and repeatedly send out marketing materials during the 6 months leading up to your birth month. You will literally be besieged by materials marketing their services and trying to get your business.

Solution: If you want to be really knowledgeable about Medicare:

  1. Read this website – This website will provide a short, concise, and easy-to-understand overview of Medicare and how it applies to you.  Our goal: To Make Medicare Easy and Understandable…Almost Fun!
  2. Click on this link Medicare and You – This is the official 120-page Government document that provides a more comprehensive explanation of Medicare and all your options.
  3. Attend a HICAP “New to Medicare” Educational meeting – HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program) is a non-profit organization that provides free and objective information about Medicare. If you want to get straight unbiased answers to all your questions, attend a HICAP meeting.

When to sign up for Medicare? 

Three months prior to your “birth month”—the month you turn 65—you can sign up for Medicare (Part A and Part B).

If you are currently receiving Social Security Benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and will receive your red, white and blue Medicare card around 3 months prior to your birth month.

If you are NOT currently receiving Social Security benefits, you will need to apply for Medicare.  We recommend you apply early since it can take approximately 6 weeks to get your new Medicare card. When you receive your new red, white and blue Medicare card, that will be a reminder to call Hopper Insurance Services for an appointment.

You will sign up for Medicare through Social Security

Medicare provides your coverage, but you’ll sign up through Social Security because they need to see if you’re eligible for Medicare, including whether you (or another qualifying person) paid Medicare taxes long enough to get Part A without have to pay a monthly premium.  They also process requests to sign up for Medicare Part B.

Most people who have contributed to the Social Security system for at least 40 quarters will get Medicare Part A (Hospital Coverage) at no cost. Everyone needs to pay for Medicare Part B premium; this will be higher for people with larger incomes.

Three ways to sign up for Medicare

You get to choose one of three ways to sign up for Medicare.  Note: The online system is the easiest and quickest way to apply for Medicare.

1. Apply Online (at Social Security website).  Click: Sign up online

  • Read the text and scroll down through the text until you reach a blue box in center of page; click on “Apply for Medicare Only.
  • Click on “I Understand and Agree” box and click “Next”
  • On next screen, in the section titled “Apply & Complete,” click on “Start a new application.”
  • Answer a few questions
  • Set up Username and Password and you are on your way.
  • Done!  You will receive a card in 3-6 weeks.

2. Apply by calling Social Security. National phone: 1-800-772-1213.  You can also call the local Social Security office at 1-866-695-6285

3. Apply directly at local Social Security office 

  • The Social Security office is located at: 122 W Figueroa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 (between Chapala and De La Vina)
  • The office is open from 9 am to 4 pm; the office closes at 12 on Wednesday.
  • The least busy days are Thursday and Friday; the least busy times are 2-3 pm.
  • If you don’t have an appointment, arrive at the Social Security office before 2 pm. They will lock the doors at 4 pm and they will help the people who are already in the office at that time.

NOTE: If you are currently on an employer sponsored group health plan and are past age 65, you will need a form completed by your employer verifying group coverage. We can provide those forms for you.

Costs of Medicare in 2022

Part A (Hospital).  For most people the premium is $0, because they paid Medicare taxes long enough while working–generally at least 10 years or 40 quarters).  This is sometimes called “premium-free Part A.”

Part B (Medical Services). For most people the premium is $170.10/month  (or higher depending on your income).  The amount can change each year. You’ll pay the premium each month even if you don’t get any Part B covered services.

You pay a premium each month for Part B. Your Part B premium will be automatically deducted from your social security benefit payment. If you don’t get these benefit payments, you’ll get a quarterly bill.

IRMAA.  Most people will pay the standard premium amount. If your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount, you may pay an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Medicare uses the modified adjusted gross income reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago. This is the most recent tax return information provided to Social Security by the IRS.  Social Security will tell you if you have to pay a higher premiums because of your income.

You’ll pay the higher premium if your modified adjusted gross income, as reported on you IRS tax return from 2 years ago, is more than:

  • $91,000 in 2022, if you file an individual tax return or are married and file separately.
  • $182,000 in 2022, if you are married and file a joint tax return

To see a chart with specific IRMAA amounts for income categories, Click : IRMAA

Note: Scroll down to Part B Section, then click on “Who pays a higher Part B premium because of income.”

A Trusted Advisor

You have a trusted advisor in Hopper Insurance Services. We are here to help you now and in the future with all of your health insurance needs. Simply call and we can usually solve problems right on the spot.

Periodic updates

Each year there is an annual open enrollment for prescription drug benefit plans. As our client, we will alert you to be ready for that October 15th to December 7th period – the only time to change prescription plans!

Additionally, we provide periodic updates for our clients, via email, as we learn about important changes in health insurance, which happens all too often.

Plan review

We are always available to help you review your insurance plans to ensure you have the best value and most appropriate coverage, including supplemental insurance for Medicare, for your situation at all times.