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Guide to Medicare Enrollment

Newly eligible for Medicare? If so, this guide is for you.

This step-by-step guide outlines the various steps you need to take to sign up for Medicare and get the right Plan for your needs and budget.

We highly recommend that you Bookmark this page as you will need to return to it after completing each step. 

Guide to Medicare Enrollment

STEP 1 – Are you Eligible for Medicare?

If you are a US citizen and are at least 64 years 9 months old, you are generally eligible to apply for Medicare (to be more precise, you are eligible from the first of next month after turning 64 yrs 8 months) for coverage usually starting the first of the month in which you turn 65.

However, there are other circumstances which might make you eligible e.g. on SSDI for 2 years, have ALS or ESRD or are a legal permanent resident who fulfills certain conditions. If you are not sure about your eligibility, refer to Are you eligible for Medicare.


STEP 2 – Understand your health benefits from Medicare and other sources

Our FREE eBook Guide to Medicare Parts & Plans helps you understand Medicare at your leisure while offline. Click on the link to download the eBook. Feel free to share with friends and family.

What does Medicare cover?

Make sure you understand what Medicare does and does not cover. Go to Medicare Parts A, B, C and D Explained to get started.

Also go through Medicare Coverage – what is NOT included. Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover Prescription Drugs, Dental, Vision, Hearing and many other areas. Understanding your Medicare coverage will help you in making the right decisions.

How much does it Cost?

Even though Medicare is subsidized through your tax dollars, you may still need to pay premiums and other cost-sharing expenses like deductibles, copays and coinsurance. How much does Medicare cost? provides a summary of these costs to enable you to plan better.

You may want to explore channels which provide additional help and support to Medicare enrollees. Read about Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) and related articles on Medicaid, Extra Help, SSI and PACE.

Other Insurance

Many of us may also get some health benefits from non-Medicare sources e.g. federal employees, past employer, spouse’s employer and retirement benefits. Make sure you understand these benefits and how they may be impacted if you get Medicare. Who pays first – Medicare or other insurance describes many such situations.


STEP 3 – Sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B

By now, you probably know that Medicare Part A primarily provides Hospital Insurance while Part B covers Medical Insurance (doctor visits, diagnostics, durable medical equipment and more). Signing up for these Part(s) is the most important step in the process.

Where do you sign up?

Ready to sign up? You will need to go through Social Security. You may do that in person (if this option is available in your area), over the telephone or online. More details are available at Where to sign up for Medicare.

If you already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB), you may get automatically enrolled and receive your Medicare Card in the mail.

Do not worry about Part C (Medicare Advantage), Part D (Prescription Drugs) or Medicare Supplement for the time being. We will come to them later.

Can you sign up anytime once eligible?

You may apply for Medicare coverage when first eligible or later during specific enrollment periods as described in Enrollment Periods – which one applies to you.

You may decide to sign up later if you have demonstrable equivalent coverage from other sources. Be careful as late enrollment penalties can be substantial and permanent. Read about them at Avoiding Late Enrollment Penalties.

Pro Tips

Part A is free (monthly premium is $0) for most people eligible to enroll in Medicare. As a result, we highly recommend that you enroll in Part A as soon as possible.

You need not enroll in both Part A and Part B at the same time. You may decide to just enroll in Part A and defer your enrollment in Part B (you need to pay a monthly premium for Part B). Read more at Part B – Overview. However, if you do not enroll in time you may have to pay late enrollment penalties if you did not have equivalent coverage during the time you could have had Part B coverage but chose not to enroll.

Part B coverage is needed for enrolling in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or a Medicare Supplement Plan. You will continue paying your Part B premiums if you enroll in either of these Plan Types.


STEP 4 – Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement or neither?

Now that you are enrolled into Medicare (Part A and/or Part B), take a look at your healthcare needs and budget. As we said earlier, Medicare does not cover everything. Decide whether you need to plug any gaps or enhance your coverage through a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Plan.

Medicare does not cover Part D prescription drugs. You may need to get a Part D Plan. Read more at Medicare Part D Plans for Prescription Drugs. There are late enrollment penalties associated with Part D. Make sure you enroll in time unless you have equivalent creditable coverage.

Why Medicare Advantage?

  • Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans provide Part A and Part B benefits through a Part C Plan. Read more at What are Medicare Advantage or Part C Plans.
  • If you need additional benefits (e.g. Dental, Vision or Hearing) and are fine with plan networks (e.g. PPO or HMO), Medicare Advantage may be for you.
  • Most MA Plans include Part D coverage so you may not need a separate Plan for Part D prescription drugs.
  • Many MA Plans have zero or low premiums. Additional benefits may lead to higher premiums. You will also need to pay deductibles, copays and coinsurance though your out-of-pocket expenses are capped in any given calendar year.
  • You get to change your Medicare Advantage Plan every year during the Annual Election Period (AEP) which runs from October 15th to December 7th.

Why Medicare Supplement?

  • Instead of providing additional coverage, Medicare Supplement Plans focus on helping with Medicare out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copays and coinsurance. You may want to consider this option if you are worried about your out-of-pocket costs or would like the flexibility to be able to go to any provider nationwide who accepts Medicare.
  • There are many Types of Medicare Supplement Plans which vary in how much help/support they provide. Take a look at Compare Medicare Supplement Plan Types F, G, N and more.
  • If you need prescription drug coverage, you may need to get a separate Part D Plan. Medicare Supplement Plans do not include Part D prescription drug coverage.
  • If you decide to go for a Medicare Supplement Plan, it is highly recommended that you do so during your ‘guaranteed issue rights’ period when Carriers cannot refuse to sell you a policy or charge you a higher premium than others due to your health condition. Read more about this at Enrollment Periods – which one applies to you.
  • Changing your Medicare Supplement Plan may not be easy. Carriers may impose certain conditions e.g. not being able to ‘upgrade’ Plan Type, and you may be subject to underwriting outside of the ‘guaranteed issue rights’ period.

Unable to decide?

  • Not sure about which Plan Type is right for you? Review your Options along with personalized analysis and recommendation based on your situation, needs and preferences. Go to Lighted Road Insurance, enter your zip code and select ‘Guide Me’ button on the next page.
  • You may also decide to stick with Part A and/or Part B and not go for either Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement. It all depends on your situation. Remember that you may still need to enroll in a standalone Part D Plan for prescription drug coverage and that you may lose your ‘guaranteed issue rights’ window for Medicare Supplement.


STEP 5 – Select and Enroll in the right Medicare Plan(s)

Our user-friendly website helps you get needed coverage at affordable cost with the right Medicare Plan for your needs.

  • Hundreds of Plans from leading Carriers.
  • Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
  • Filter Plans based on multiple criteria. Enter your prescription drugs to find which Plans cover them in lower tiers.
  • Compare and Select the right Plan for your needs.

Confident about what type of Plan you need?

Click on the appropriate link below, enter your zip code and click ‘Show Plans’ button on the next page. Give it a few seconds to load and display Plan data. Filter, Compare and Select.

Medicare Advantage Plans which include Part D

Medicare Supplement Plans

Standalone Part D Plans

Need to analyze your Options in more detail?

Our innovative step-by-step process helps you navigate through your choices. It outlines your options and provides personalized analysis for each one of them based on your situation, needs and preferences.

Go to, enter your zip code and select ‘Guide Me’ button on the next page.

Prefer talking to a Licensed Agent?

If you have questions or are more comfortable speaking to a licensed agent, we are happy to help.

Click Request Callback to request a licensed agent to call you back.


STEP 6 – Congratulations

By completing your Medicare enrollment, you have taken an important step in protecting your future health.

Start budgeting. Even though Medicare is subsidized through your tax dollars, you may still need to pay premiums and other cost-sharing expenses like deductibles, copays and coinsurance. How much does Medicare cost? provides a summary of these costs to enable you to plan better.

Over time your healthcare needs may change, and Plans may change as well. The Annual Election Period (AEP) runs October 15th to December 7th every year. It is best practice to review available Plans and coverage during the AEP.

Enrolling in a health plan is necessary but may not be sufficient. Our FREE newsletter helps seniors lead a happy and healthy lifestyle and includes topics like health, travel, finance, food, entertainment and more. Click on, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up.

We sincerely hope to keep helping seniors with Medicare plan selection using the best tools at our disposal. If you have any suggestion, please email us at We would love to hear back from you.

Be healthy.


Click here to learn more about Medicare, its various Parts, different enrollment periods and your costs.

We have also created videos to help you better understand various topics related to Medicare. Select and watch a video explaining the topic of your interest in a simple and intuitive manner.

Remember that you cannot choose just any combination of Parts and Plans. Let Lighted Road Insurance guide you step-by-step through the Medicare ecosystem and help you in selecting the right plan(s) for your needs.

General / Informational Disclaimers

This website ( contains information about and access to insurance plans for eligible and soon to be eligible Medicare beneficiaries and their advisors. It is operated by Lighted Road Insurance Services, a licensed health insurance agency in the State of California. and Lighted Road Insurance Services are not endorsed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), or any other government agency.

For a complete list of available plans please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult

The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Contact may be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.


Last Updated: 01-10-2021