If you live in Puerto Rico, you may be eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and residents of Puerto Rico (as well as other territories, such as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa) can qualify for Medicare if they meet eligibility requirements.
Here’s an overview of how Medicare works if you live in Puerto Rico, including eligibility, enrollment, and your coverage options.
Here’s a rundown on your Medicare options.
Out-of-pocket costs, coverage details, and plan benefits vary among Medicare-approved private health insurance companies. Medicare beneficiaries in Puerto Rico should compare all available plan options in their location with their health and prescription drug needs in mind.
You’re typically eligible for Medicare if you’re either a United States citizen or permanent legal resident of at least five continuous years. In Puerto Rico, as in the United States, residents are generally first eligible for Medicare when they turn 65 or through disability if they’re younger than 65 and have been receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for at least two years. You may also qualify for Medicare at any age if you have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
When you’re newly eligible and signing up for Medicare for the first time, you’re enrolling in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, the government health-care program for those over 65 and certain disabled individuals.
If you’ve worked for at least 10 years while paying Medicare taxes, you typically get Part A without a premium, but most people pay a monthly premium for Part B.
Medicare enrollment in Puerto Rico works differently than it does in the United States. Puerto Rico residents who are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits when they turn 65 are automatically enrolled in Part A, but they must always sign up manually to get Part B. You can apply for Part B separately through Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (if you worked for a railroad); the contact information is below.
The best time to sign up for Medicare is generally during your Initial Enrollment Period, the seven-month period when you’re first eligible for Medicare. If you qualify because of age, this period starts three months before the month that you’re Medicare eligible, includes the month you turn 65, and continues for another three months afterwards. If you qualify because of disability, your Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before the 25th month of disability benefits and lasts seven months. You can also sign up for Part A at this time if you’re not automatically enrolled; for example, you’ll need to manually enroll in both Part A and Part B if you’re not yet receiving retirement benefits when you turn 65.
You can also sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period, which runs annually from January 1 to March 31. If you sign up during the General Enrollment Period after you’re first eligible, you might have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for Part A and/or Part B. For example, if you delay Part B enrollment until the General Enrollment Period, you may be charged a permanent premium increase of 10% for each full 12-months that you were eligible for Part B, but did not enroll. If you’re not eligible for premium-free Part A because you haven’t worked enough quarters, you may owe a late-enrollment penalty for Part A as well.
In certain situations, you may be able to delay Medicare enrollment and sign up through a Special Enrollment Period. For example, some people wait to enroll in Part B if they have employer-sponsored health coverage, since Part B comes with a monthly premium. The employer coverage must be based on current employment (either through your own work or your spouse’s work). In this situation, you’ll have an eight-month Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare when you stop working or the health coverage ends (whichever happens first).To sign up for Part A and/or Part B, you can do any of the following:
You can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B in the following ways:
If you worked at a railroad, enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701). Railroad Retirement Board representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 3:30PM.
Once you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you may have other options as well, including Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, and Medicare Supplement plans. An eHealth licensed insurance agent can help you explore Medicare plans in your area; just give us a call today to get started.
To learn about Medicare plans you may be eligible for, you can: