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How Can I Sign up My Parent for Medicare Online?

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Summary: You may be able to help your parents sign up for Medicare online. But Medicare enrollment is often automatic, so your parents wouldn’t need to sign up. Once your parents are signed up for Medicare, they can choose what types of Medicare coverage they want. You can show them how easy it is to compare Medicare health plans online.

My parent needs to sign up for Medicare – can I help?

Dad’s one of the most resourceful, independent guys I know. But on the subject of health insurance, his face absolutely freezes into a blank stare. He called me to help him sign up for Medicare, saying it would be a great 65th birthday present. I thought to myself: “I’ll bet I can do this online.”

Signing up for Medicare is pretty easy. It’s usually handled through the Social Security Administration (SSA). You can sign up for Medicare in person, by telephone, or online.

Sign up for Medicare: you might not have to

Medicare enrollment is automatic for some people when they turn 65 or qualify by disability. Perhaps your Dad is already receiving Social Security benefits. In this case, he’ll be enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) automatically at age 65. If you think your Dad might be in this situation, ask him if he has received a Welcome to Medicare package in the mail. He would get this package about 3 months before his 65th birthday. If your Dad is not receiving Social Security benefits when he turns 65, he’ll probably need to sign up for Medicare.

How to sign up for Medicare online

If you want to help your Dad (or Mom) sign up for Medicare online, here’s what you do. Go to the SSA website at to sign up for Medicare only.

Click Apply for Medicare Only. You should be able to fill it out in about 10 minutes, according to the Social Security website. Note you can save the application and come back to it later if you need to.

When you sign up for Medicare online, the Social Security website requires you to set up a “my Social Security” account. Your account lets you do tasks like seeing benefit statements and estimating your future benefits.

SSA will process your parent’s application and contact him or her if necessary.

Your Dad (or Mom) will get a decision letter in the mail from the SSA about 3 weeks after signing up for Medicare.

Sign up for Medicare plan options online

You can help your Dad tailor his Medicare coverage to his needs. For example:

  • To add prescription drug coverage, your Dad can sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. These plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. Or, he can get a Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan.
  • Your Dad can decide to get his Medicare Part A and Part B coverage through a private, Medicare-approved insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans not only provide Part A and Part B benefits, but usually prescription drug coverage. Many plans offer extra benefits too, like routine hearing care. Some plans may even cover acupuncture.

Remember that not all Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs. Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans.

  • One more coverage option you might want to think about is Medicare Supplement insurance. If your Dad decides to stay with Medicare Part A and Part B instead of getting a Medicare Advantage plan, he may be able to buy a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plan. Medigap plans may pay for Medicare Part A and Part B coinsurance/copayments, and in some cases, deductibles. Learn more about Medicare Supplement insurance.

Want to help Dad explore Medicare plans online? Just enter his zip code in the box on this page. You can even apply online for coverage when you find the right plan for your parent.

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