Original Medicare is a Federal health insurance program for individuals who are 65 or older, and individuals who are disabled.
While most people are automatically enrolled into Original Medicare when they turn 65, you may have to enroll in Part A and/or Part B on your own.
You can enroll in Medicare by contacting the Social Security Administration, applying online or mail submission.
Learn more about Original Medicare enrollment at Medicare.gov
By now, you probably know what Medicare is and what it covers. But do you know how to enroll and start receiving Part A and B benefits? Enrolling is easy when you know what to expect. Here’s a common-sense look at what you need to know about Original Medicare enrollment.
Does Social Security automatically enroll you in Medicare?
If you receive Social Security benefits, your enrollment into Original Medicare is automatic when you turn 65. If you are under 65 and you receive Social Security benefits, your enrollment into Original Medicare is automatic after 24 consecutive months of benefits.
If you don’t receive any benefits from Social Security, you may have to enroll yourself. How does it work?
- When you’re new to the Medicare program, you have an initial enrollment period to select your benefits. Your initial enrollment period is the three months before and after your birthday month, totaling seven months. For example, If you turn 65 on May 10, you have from February to August to enroll.
- If you miss your initial enrollment deadline, using the example above, you can enroll in Part A and/or Part B during the general enrollment period from January 1 to March 31 of the next year.
- If you or your spouse have medical insurance through an employer and choose not to enroll in Part B when you turn 65, you may enroll in Part B at any time while on the employer plan. You will also have an 8-month window to enroll in Part B, beginning the month after your employer plan ends.
- If you are within 3 months of turning 65, you can apply for Medicare online with the Social Security Administration.
Find a local Medicare plan that fits your needs
The Medicare insurance program and its services are only available to American citizens, or those who have been in the country legally for five or more years.
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) Eligibility
- 65 years of age or older
- You receive Social Security benefits for more than 24 consecutive months
- You receive Railroad Retirement Board benefits for more than 24 consecutive months
- Have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), require permanent dialysis or a kidney transplant
- Have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Most people enroll in Medicare Part A when they turn 65. Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is free for most, but some may have to pay for Part A benefits. You will have to pay a premium for Part B (medical insurance), but you can choose to turn down Part B. Some individuals are eligible for help paying their Part B premium. For more information, contact the Social Security Administration [i] .
If you choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B and then decide to enroll later, you risk delayed coverage and a higher premium. If you’re unsure about Part B, you can contact a benefit specialist to answer questions and discuss options. Your Part B premium can increase as much as 10% for each 12-month period you’re eligible (when you turn 65) and don’t enroll.
For example, the cost of your premium at 65 may be $100 and you decide not to enroll, and 24 months later, you choose to enroll in Part B. Two things may happen: (1) The premium may increase on it’s own and (2) If the premium doesn’t rise, your monthly cost will increase and remain higher. A penalty of 10% (first 12-months) and 10% (second 12-months) will make your premium $121 per month for as long as you have part B instead of a monthly cost of $100 when you were first eligible.
Possible exceptions include:
- You receive health insurance from your employer or your spouse’s employer
- You receive veterans’ benefits
- You have private health insurance
Are you eligible for cost-saving Medicare subsidies?
If you are three months from turning 65 and want to enroll, you can enroll online with the Social Security Administration. If you’re not comfortable with an online enrollment, you can contact the Social Security Administration over the phone or in-person.
To learn more about Medicare Part A and B enrollment, visit Medicare.gov [i] .
Once you are enrolled in an Original Medicare plan, you can learn about other Medicare alternatives such as Medicare Advantage.
To enroll, you’ll need to provide some basic information:
- Current address
- Phone number
- Social Security number
- Identification documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, or passport)
If you’re not automatically enrolled in Medicare, the process can be quick and easy if you know what to expect. Aside from the personal information you’ll need, we recommend that you sit down and write down the following information to make the process as smooth as possible:
- The names and addresses of your doctors
- Which prescription drugs you’re currently taking
- Any medical issues you’d like to have covered