For most people, you must be 65 years of age to begin enrolling in Medicare. (There are, however, exceptions for people with certain disabilities). In most cases, you are able to enroll in Medicare once you are 3 months away from your 65th birthday. This is called your “initial enrollment period.”
Your initial enrollment is the period of time when you are first able to apply for the different parts of Medicare. It is a 7 month window of time that occurs 3 months before your 65th birthday, and ends 3 months after your birthday. Read on to learn more about this period and the Medicare enrollment requirements.
Once you are 3 months away from your 65th birthday, if you are not automatically enrolled in Medicare through Social Security because you have not worked enough credits throughout your life, or you are not being enrolled through the Railroad Retirement Board, you can sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period.
If you miss your initial enrollment period window, you can still sign up for Medicare each year during the general enrollment period.
The general enrollment period extends each year from January 1st through March 31st. Take note that if you do sign up at any point during this time, your insurance will begin in July.
Also, there’s the chance your premiums may be higher if you enroll into Medicare later, rather than during your initial period.
If you are age 65 but are not yet retired and receive comprehensive health insurance through your job or your spouse’s work, then you may not have to sign up for Medicare. However, you may want to check with your employer about this.
Some companies require you to enroll in Medicare Part A and B once you turn 65. In this case, the insurance policy that you have through work will become secondary. Similarly to a Medigap policy, your work health insurance will fill in the cracks of Original Medicare coverage.