Medicare, a health insurance program administered by the United States Federal Government, provides coverage to essentially all United States citizens and permanent residents over the age of sixty five, as well as a small number of other groups such as the disabled and those with dialysis-dependent end stage renal diseaes (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). For individuals in the US who have worked and paid taxes for at least ten years, Medicare part A, which covers hospital insurance, is free.
The enrollment process for Medicare can be involved, and there is no simple answer to the question of how long it takes to obtain coverage under Medicare. This is partly because some individuals are automatically enrolled, while others must self-enroll. In addition, there are now various Medicare Options available, and selecting these can add time to the enrollment process. Most individuals will need to self-enroll for medicare, as automatic enrollment only applies for disabled individuals receiving Social Security benefits. This type of enrollment happens quickly, taking usually less than one month, and little or no paperwork is required.
For other individuals, they must self enroll during the general enrollment period. This period opens on January 1st, and closes on the last day of March every year. For these individuals, the processing of a completed application can take one to seven months, depending on a person’s decisions on the specific type of coverage to obtain, such as an individual who chooses part C in lieu of A, B, and D. For example, individuals who choose Medicare Part C need to arrange private insurance and submit paperwork to Medicare for processing. Because of the involved nature of this process, many advisers suggest that people who will become eligible for Medicare begin the application process up to one year in advance.