Coronavirus & Medicare enrollment: Get the coverage you need

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many businesses have temporarily closed. If you recently stopped working or lost your health coverage through your job (or another person’s job, like your spouse), you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance).

If you already have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), and want to enroll in Part B, follow these steps:

  1. Download and complete 2 forms (both are available in English and Spanish):
    • Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B)
    • Request for Employment Information (CMS-L564)
      • Fill out Section A, and ask your employer to complete and sign Section B.
      • If your employer can’t complete Section B, you can fill it out for them. Your employer doesn’t need to sign the form. Instead, you’ll send evidence of employment and health coverage, like health insurance cards with policy effective dates and pay stubs showing health insurance premium deductions. Get more information about evidence and filling out this form at SSA.gov/coronavirus.
  2. Print and sign the forms.
  3. Send the forms (and evidence, if your employer can’t complete Section B) to the Social Security Administration. You can send it one of these ways:
    • Mail to your local Social Security office (you can find your local Social Security office by using the zip code lookup tool at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp)
    • Fax at 1-833-914-2016
      Social Security offices are currently closed to the public for in-person services due to COVID-19, but are able to process Medicare enrollments sent by mail or fax.

If you’re signing up for Medicare for the first time:

Apply online at Social Security. During the online application, you can choose whether you want Part B.

If you get benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, contact your local RRB office to sign up for Medicare.

Learn more about how we’re responding to coronavirus.

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Going electronic is easy with Medicare online resources

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Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a great time to think about ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Medicare’s online resources make reducing your use of paper easier.  

Switch to the electronic version of the “Medicare & You” handbook

If you have an eReader (like an iPad, Kindle Fire, Surface, or Galaxy Tab), you can download a free digital version of “Medicare & You” and other Medicare publications to your eReader and take them with you on-the-go.

Don’t have an eReader? You can still sign up to get a paperless version. If you sign up, we’ll send you an email in September when the new eHandbook is available. The email will explain that instead of getting a paper copy in your mailbox each fall, you’ll get an email linking you to the online handbook. The online version of the handbook contains all the same information as the printed version. .

Get your “Medicare Summary Notices” electronically (also called “eMSNs”)

For anyone with Original Medicare Part A or Part B, eMSNs contain the same information as paper MSNs. You can sign up for eMSNs by creating or logging into your Medicare account. If you choose to get eMSNs, you won’t get printed copies of your MSNs in the mail every quarter. Instead, we’ll send you an email each month when an eMSN is available in your account.

Sign up today to get your electronic Medicare information quickly and securely — and reduce your carbon footprint for Earth Day.

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Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening

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It’s important to remember that as you get older you have an increased sensitivity to alcohol. This means that you experience the symptoms from drinking more quickly than you may have when you were younger. And, alcohol misuse can have a serious impact on your medications and current health problems.

Medicare covers an alcohol misuse screening once per year if you’re an adult who uses alcohol but doesn’t meet the medical criteria for alcohol dependency. You can also get 4 brief face-to-face counseling sessions each year if you’re competent and alert during counseling. Medicare covers these substance misuse counseling services if they’re provided in a primary care setting, like a doctor’s office, and if your qualified primary care doctor or practitioner accepts assignment.

If you’re concerned you may be misusing alcohol, call your doctor today. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and we want to help you stay healthy and safe.

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Spring into action with Medicare preventive care


Spring means more daylight, blooming flowers, and warmer weather. Make sure you enjoy it all while staying proactive with your health. It’s time to spring into action with Medicare’s preventive care.

Preventive services are valuable to your wellbeing, because they can help you keep from getting sick and find health problems early, when treatment works best.

When you have Medicare, you have access to a variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to you. If you’re new to Medicare, we cover a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit during your first 12 months of Part B coverage.

This Medicare preventive visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about Medicare preventive care, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed. If you’ve had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly “Wellness” visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors.

Be sure to check out our complete list of Medicare-covered preventive services.

Practice preventive care to ensure you stay healthy, live longer, and delay or prevent many diseases. So, as you tend to your garden this spring, make a commitment to tend to yourself, too.

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Are you among the 1 in 3 Americans at risk for diabetes?

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Each day, 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes — a serious disease that can lead to kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. Tuesday, March 24 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day — a day that focuses on how important it is to understand your risk of developing diabetes. You can take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out your risk for type 2 diabetes since it most often develops in middle-aged and older adults.

If you make healthy lifestyle changes, you might be able to prevent, delay, or even reverse type 2 diabetes. Many people at risk for diabetes — and some who already have it — don’t know it. We’re here to help; Medicare covers: 

  • Diabetes screening tests so you can find out if you have the disease.
  • A Diabetes Prevention Program to help you avoid it altogether. Check to see if there’s a program in your area.
    If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including insulintest stripsmonitorslancets and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems.
    You can get diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes and monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions.
    Learn your risk for diabetes and take control of your health. This American Diabetes Association Alert Day, take the Diabetes Risk Test and talk to your doctor about how you can manage or avoid the disease.

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Make healthier choices for a healthier you. Medicare can help!

Food isn’t just for survival — it can foster relationships, spark conversations, and connect cultures. Above all, smart food choices are good for you and your family’s health, and overall well-being. While confusing food labels and fad diets can make healthy eating challenging, National Nutrition Month and Medicare are here to help!

March is National Nutrition Month®. Information and other resources are available to help you understand portion sizes, become menu-savvy when dining out, and make healthy eating choices. Make learning how to make food choices that are healthy, delicious, and sustainable a priority this month.

Even better, Medicare benefits, like nutrition therapy services and obesity behavioral therapy, may be available to you year-round. If eligible, you can meet with a nutrition professional to discuss your lifestyle, nutrition, and health goals. Visit Medicare.gov to see if you qualify.

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Get your yearly colorectal cancer screenings

When life gets busy, it’s easy to put off an important test or screening. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so take some time out of your busy schedule to get screened. Remember, colorectal cancer is very common among men—it’s the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. among cancers that affect both men and women. It’s important to be proactive, so talk with your doctor about whether you should get colorectal cancer or prostate cancer screenings.

Medicare covers a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test once every 12 months for men 50 or over. Medicare also covers a variety of colorectal cancer screenings—like fecal occult blood testsflexible sigmoidoscopies, and colonoscopies—and you pay nothing for most tests.

In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Fortunately, testing for colorectal cancer can find these polyps early, so you can get them removed before they turn into cancer.

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Care for your kidneys — Medicare can help

There’s never “bean” a better time to care for your kidneys’ health.

Did you know that approximately 90% of people with kidney disease don’t know they have it? If it’s caught early enough, kidney disease can be slowed or stopped, so it’s important to ask your doctor if you have concerns. And, if you’ve already been diagnosed with kidney disease, Medicare is here to help you care for your kidneys.

If you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease, Medicare covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions that teach you how to manage kidney disease and take the best possible care of your kidneys. Sessions      cover topics like how to prevent complications of kidney disease, what to eat and drink to care for your kidneys, and what options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants.

If you or a loved one has advanced kidney disease requiring dialysis, often known as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you’ll need to find the right care. Dialysis facilities can vary in the quality of services and care for kidneys they provide, so it’s important to understand the differences in dialysis facilities in your area before you decide where to go for care. If you’re already on dialysis, it’s also important to understand the quality of care that your dialysis facility delivers.

You can visit Medicare.gov to search for dialysis facilities, compare them side by side, and find the right one for you. You can also hear directly from other dialysis patients by reading their responses to questions about their dialysis facility, their kidney doctor, and the facility’s staff.

March is National Kidney Month, so there’s no better time to get smart about kidney disease. Visit Medicare.gov to learn more about Medicare-covered kidney services and “filter” through your options for dialysis facilities.

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Medicare now covers coronavirus testing

You may be hearing about the coronavirus (officially called 2019-novel coronavirus or COVID-19) in the news. While there isn’t a vaccine yet, Medicare is still here to help.

Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

“>Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

 covers a test to see if you have coronavirus. This test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders it, if you got the test on or after February 4, 2020.

You usually pay nothing for Medicare-covered clinical diagnostic laboratory tests. Note: Your provider will need to wait until after April 1, 2020 to be able to submit a claim to Medicare for this test.

 To prevent the spread of this illness or other illnesses including the flu, here are some tips to follow:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home when you’re sick
  • See your doctor if you think you’re ill

For more information on the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

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Prevent Medicare fraud — become an informed Medicare consumer

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Each day, you make important choices about your finances, health, privacy, and more. During National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 1–7, 2020, non-profit organizations and government agencies can help you protect yourself and prevent fraud by taking advantage of your rights and making better, more informed choices.

Here are some things you can do to prevent Medicare fraud and become an informed Medicare consumer:

  • Know your rights: As a person with Medicare, you have certain rights and protections to help protect you and make sure you get the health care services the law says you can get.
  • Protect your identity: Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your consent to commit fraud or other crimes. Keep information like your Social Security Number, bank account numbers, and Medicare Number safe. Get more information on how to protect yourself from identity theft.
  • Help fight Medicare fraud: Medicare fraud takes money from the Medicare program each year, which means higher health care costs for you. Learn how to report Medicare fraud.
  • Join the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP): The SMP educates and empowers people with Medicare to take an active role in detecting and preventing health care fraud and abuse.
  • Make informed Medicare choices: Each year during the fall Open Enrollment Period (October 15–December 7), review your plan to make sure it will meet your needs for the next year. If you’re not satisfied with your current plan, you can switch during the Open Enrollment Period with the Medicare Plan Finder.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s NCPW page to learn more about the campaign, see which agencies and organizations are able to help you, and to find out if there are any activities happening in your area.

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