How often do you get asked, “How do I sign up for Medicare?”
A rehearsed, articulate response could be the difference between gaining and losing a future client.
We know that to enroll a prospect in a supplemental Medicare plan, you must first ensure that they have both Parts A and B of Medicare. And if you can’t guide them to properly enroll in Part B, they may find someone else who can, which may lead to a loss of business for you.
Assess Their Situation Before Helping Them Enroll in Medicare Part B
When someone asks how to sign up for Medicare, an understanding of their current situation will be needed. Here are a couple key questions that will help you guide your client through Medicare Part B enrollment:
1) Are you currently receiving Social Security benefits?
If their answer is “yes,” then they will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part B. The effective date will be the first day of the month in which the prospect turns 65 (if they were born on the first of the month, the effective date will be the first day of the previous month).
- If the prospect is under 65 and receiving Social Security disability benefits, they will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part B after receiving disability benefits for 24 months.
- If the prospect has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), they will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part B the month their Social Security disability benefits begin.
If the prospect is not yet receiving Social Security benefits, they will need to sign up for Part B through the Social Security Administration. This can be done at their local Social Security office or online at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare. They have a seven-month (Initial Enrollment Period) window to complete this process that starts three months prior to the month in which they turn 65.
2) Are you over 65?
If the prospect is beyond their Initial Enrollment Period (the seven-month window described above), they will have to sign up for Medicare Part B using one of the following options:
- General Enrollment Period: Prospects can sign up for Medicare Part B every year between January 1st and March 31st. The Part B coverage will begin on July 1st of that year. The prospect may also be responsible for paying a higher premium due to the delayed enrollment.
- Special Enrollment Period: Prospects that are over 65 and covered by group health coverage (through their employer or their spouse’s employer) can sign up for Part B anytime while covered by an employer plan. They also have an eight-month window that starts the month after employment ends or coverage ends, whichever happens first.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse When it Comes to Selling Medicare
Sometimes as brokers we get so focused on the sale (MA or Medigap enrollment) we forget that some folks need help signing up for basic Medicare. Be the broker that prospects and clients can rely on for all Medicare related information, not just the information that earns you a commission. And if you can’t find the answer yourself, think Plan Advisors first!