Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare too, including those with disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure.
If you or your spouse have paid Medicare taxes for 10 years or 40 quarters you will not pay a premium for Part A.
You can first sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is a 7-month period that begins 3 months before your 65th birthday, the month of your 65th birthday and 3 months after your 65th birthday.
If you are already getting benefits from Social Security, you’ll automatically get Parts A and B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, Parts A and B will start the first day of the prior month. You should get your Medicare card in the mail 2 – 3 months before your 65th birthday.
If you are close to 65 but not collecting Social Security, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare. Contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65. You can also apply for Parts A and B at ssa.gov.
You should sign up for Part A when you first become eligible. In most cases there is no charge for Part A.
If you are currently covered under an employer group health insurance plan you will need to check with your group plan administrator and see if you are required to sign up for Part B. If you don’t have to – don’t. You will be charged a premium for Part B. When your group health plan ends, you can then sign up for Part B with no penalty because you would have had creditable coverage.