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All US citizens become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. Non-citizen permanent residents are eligible at 65 also, provided they have lived in the country for at least five years.
If you are under 65, you might qualify for Medicare if:
As with most large, complex government programs, Medicare can seem a bit overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you navigate the application procedure, annual enrollment, and more.
You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65 years old. However, if you have already claimed Social Security benefits at that time, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare on your 65th birthday. You will receive Medicare Parts A and B. To enroll in other Medicare programs, such as Part C (Advantage) or Part D (prescription) you must meet with an insurance professional to elect those benefits.
Those who have not already begun to draw Social Security benefits will need to apply for Medicare when they turn 65. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins three months before your 65th birthday, lasts throughout the month of your birthday, and then for three months after that. So, you have seven months in total to complete the enrollment process.
There is one exception to the above rule: If your birthday falls on the first day of the month, your IEP will begin one month earlier.
Yes, you should apply for Medicare at age 65, even if you aren’t claiming your Social Security benefits yet. In fact, you must apply for Medicare during this initial enrollment period. Otherwise, if you sign up later you will face higher premiums for the rest of your life. Only under very specific conditions can you delay enrollment without incurring a penalty.
The Medicare General Enrollment Period, from January 1 to March 31 each year, allows those who missed their IEP to enroll in Medicare.
This enrollment period only applies to Original Medicare. Those who prefer a Medicare Advantage Plan or want Part D coverage will have to wait until the Annual Election Period in the fall.
Important Note: The General Enrollment Period is not a safety net for missing your Initial Enrollment Period. You will be charged a late penalty, and your coverage won’t begin until July 1.
Christopher Whaley, MSIndependent Health Insurance Agent
This video tutorial covers the basic elements of Medicare in a format that is easy to understand and you can watch it from the comfort of home! It’s yours at no cost and no obligation, just tell us where we should send it!
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