Who administers the Medicare program?
The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has overall responsibility for administering the Medicare program. Although the Social Security Administration processes Medicare applications and claims, the HCFA sets standards and policies. However, as a beneficiary, you deal mostly with the private insurance companies that actually handle the claims on the local level for individuals receiving Medicare coverage. Insurance companies handling Medicare Part A claims are called Medicare intermediaries, and insurance companies handling Part B claims are called Medicare carriers. Managed care plans handle Part C claims. Although the same private insurance company may handle both Part A and Part B claims, Part A and Part B are very different in regard to administration (e.g., different deductibles and co-payment requirements). There is virtually no overlap; it is as if you have two separate health insurance policies. How do you sign up for Medicare? Any individual who is receiving Social Security benefits will automatically be enrolled in Medicare at age 65 when he or she becomes eligible. If you are not receiving Social Security benefits prior to age 65, you will be automatically enrolled when you apply for benefits at age 65. However, if you decide to delay retirement until after age 65, remember to enroll in Medicare at age 65 anyway, because your enrollment won't be automatic. Individuals who will be automatically enrolled in Medicare will receive notification by mail from the Social Security Administration, usually three months before their 65th birthday. Please Note: The information contained in this Web site is provided solely as a source of general information and resource. It is a not a statement of contract and coverage may not apply in all areas or circumstances. For a complete description of coverages, always read the insurance policy, including all endorsements

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