Medicare Expert Q& a: Will I Be Automatically Enrolled In Medicare When I Turn 65
- Reviewed byJohn Krahnert
“I turn 65 next year. Will I be automatically enrolled in Medicare? Is there anything I need to do?” Linda M., Springfield, MO
Thanks for writing in, Linda. Ill start answering your question by asking one of my own: Will you be collecting retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for at least four months by the time you turn 65 years old?
I ask because automatic enrollment in Medicare hinges largely on that particular criteria.
Who Gets Automatically Enrolled In Medicare
A few different groups of people receive Medicare benefits automatically. When you are automatically enrolled in Medicare, you will receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail.
People who have been receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board at least four months before they turn 65 will automatically get Part A and Part B. Coverage for these people starts on the first day of the month they turn 65 or the first day of the month before for people whose birthdays are on the first day of the month. If these people live in Puerto Rico, they will only be automatically enrolled in Part A and will need to apply for enrollment in Part B. These people all receive their Medicare card in the mail three months before they turn 65.
People who have a disability and have received disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months or certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. They will receive their Medicare cards in the mail three months before their 25th month of receiving disability benefits.
People with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B the month they first receive their disability benefits. They will receive their Medicare card in the mail this same month.
What Is The Initial Enrollment Period For Medicare
The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is your seven-month window to apply for Medicare and enroll in a Medicare plan. The period starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after. Choosing your Medicare plan during the IEP is your best way to avoid late-enrollment penalties.
First time enrollment tip: If you need coverage the month you turn 65, be sure to sign up in the 3-month window before your birthday.
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Do You Have To Sign Up For Medicare If You Are Still Working
The most common reason for people not signing up for Medicare when they turn 65 is because they are still working. Because theyre still working, theyre likely covered under their employers health insurance plan and are also unlikely to be collecting Social Security retirement benefits.
Being covered under your employer-provided health insurance plan has no bearing on your Medicare eligibility. Medicare works in conjunction with several other types of health insurance including health insurance provided by employers or unions and wont prevent you from enrolling.
However, if you are not collecting Social Security retirement benefits at least four months before you turn 65, you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. In this case, you will have to manually sign up for Medicare when youre ready to enroll.
Many people choose to delay their Social Security retirement benefits until a later age when they can collect the full amount. If you choose to delay your retirement benefits, you must still sign up for Medicare manually once youre eligible in order to avoid any late enrollment penalties .
Some people who are still working sign up for Medicare anyway, because Medicare can work as extra insurance along with an employer group health insurance plan. Some people may decide that Medicare is more affordable than their employers insurance, so they may continue working but disenroll from their group plan and enroll in Medicare instead.
Signing Up For Premium
You can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Your Part A coverage starts 6 months back from when you sign up or when you apply for benefits from Social Security . Coverage cant start earlier than the month you turned 65.
After your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you can only sign up for Part B and Premium-Part A during one of the other enrollment periods.
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Do I Automatically Get Medicare When I Turn 65
Unless you have already been receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board at least four months before you turn 65, you will not be automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. You will need to sign up for Medicare yourself by applying with Social Security.
Keeping Your Medicare Card Safe
Keep your Medicare card in a safe place, and dont let anyone else use it. Always have your card handy when you call Medicare with questions.
You should take your Medicare card with you when you receive any health care services or supplies. Even if you havent reached your deductible, your doctor will need your card information to submit a claim. That claim will be applied to your deductible so you can use your benefits sooner. If you receive a new Medicare card, show it to your doctors office staff so they can make a copy of the updated information.
If you misplaced or lost your card, you can get a replacement Medicare card.
To learn about Medicare plans you may be eligible for, you can:
- Contact the Medicare plan directly.
- Contact a licensed insurance agency such as Medicare Consumer Guides parent company, eHealth.
- Or enter your zip code where requested on this page to see quote.
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You Automatically Get Medicare When You Turn 65
- Well mail you a welcome package with your Medicare card 3 months before your Medicare coverage starts.
Sign up for Part B if you live in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S.You get Part A automatically. If you want Part B, you need to sign up for it. If you dont sign up for Part B within 3 months of turning 65, you might have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty.
Enrollment In Medicare Advantage And Part D
Unlike Original Medicare, there is no option for automatic enrollment with these plans. For Part D, you can enroll during the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15th through December 7th if you miss your IEP.
For enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan , you can also use the same Annual Enrollment Period.
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Enrollment Windows Are Limited
If you’re thinking about delaying your enrollment in Medicare, keep in mind that there are enrollment windows that apply. After your initial enrollment window ends, you can only sign up for Medicare Part A and B during the general annual enrollment period from January 1March 31, with coverage effective July 1.
And you can sign up for Part D during the annual enrollment period from October 15December 7, with coverage effective January 1 of the coming year.
So if you delay your enrollment, you could be paying higher premiums when you eventually do enroll, and you’ll have to wait until an open enrollment period in order to have access to coverage. If you’re only enrolled in Part A, for example, and you get diagnosed with a serious illness in April, you’ll have to wait until the following January to have Part D coverage, and until the following Julymore than a year in the futureto have Part B coverage.
Keep all of this in mind when you’re deciding whether to enroll in the parts of Medicare that have premiums.
Act Quickly If You Want A Medicare Advantage Or Part D Plan When You Retire
When you work past 65 and qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, there is one tricky thing to note about this time period. The Special Enrollment Period lasts 8 months, but you only get the first two months to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
Many people get tripped up by this because they do get the full 8 months to get Part A and Part B. And this is even trickier when you consider that you need both Parts A and B to get a Medicare Advantage plan, and either Part A or Part B to get a Part D stand-alone plan.
TIP: Enroll in everything you want and need within the first two months of your Special Enrollment Period to ensure you dont accidently get hit with financial penalties for Part D.
Another good reason to enroll in the first two months is that it can take some time for plans to process your application. Make your decisions and enroll early to avoid a lapse in coverage.
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Do You Automatically Get A Medicare Card When You Turn 65
Medicare will enroll you in Part B automatically. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about 3 months before your 65th birthday. If youre not getting disability benefits and Medicare when you turn 65, youll need to call or visit your local Social Security office, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
Your First Chance To Sign Up
Generally, when you turn 65. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period. It lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Avoid the penaltyIf you miss your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The penalty goes up the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you have to pay a Part A premium, also called Premium-Part A.
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What does Medicare cover?
There are four parts to Medicare. Part A provides coverage while you are admitted to the hospital as an inpatient. Part B includes coverage for medical expenses for things such as a doctors visit, preventative testing, medical equipment and outpatient surgeries and procedures. Part C is known as Medicare Advantage and is another way to get your Medicare benefits through a private insurance company instead of the federal government. Finally, Part D is your prescription drug plan. Original Medicare includes Parts A and Part B only.
What are the benefits?
It may seem intrusive to get enrolled in healthcare without asking for it, but there is a big benefit to it. The benefit to automatic enrollment of Original Medicare is that you do not have to worry about missing your window to gain access. It can also serve as a reminder to review your health insurance and revise the coverage to be more aligned with your specific healthcare needs. Many beneficiaries tackle this process by working with a qualified Medicare insurance agent. They stay on top of all the ins and outs of Medicare so you dont have to.
What are the drawbacks?
How does enrollment work?
There are so many different conditions that come into play when considering enrolling in Medicare. It is important to understand how to get started, whether this happens automatically or not.
If Youre New To Medicare
Youll have to manually apply for Medicare if:
- You live in Puerto Rico. You may get automatically enrolled in Part A as described above, but youll need to sign up for Part B.
- You arent receiving retirement benefits yet.
- You have end-stage renal disease .
If you have end-stage renal disease , you can apply for Medicare at any time. Otherwise, youre first eligible to enroll during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period, which typically starts three months before you turn 65, includes the month of your 65th birthday, and ends three months later. When your Medicare coverage begins and when you get your Medicare card depends on the month you sign up during this period.
If you dont enroll in Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, in most cases youll have to wait until the General Enrollment Period, which takes place from January to March 31 every year. You may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B .
Some people decide to delay Medicare Part B enrollment if they have other coverage, since Part B comes with a premium. If youre working and have health coverage through an employer, you can sign up for Part B with a Special Enrollment Period when you stop working or that coverage ends. You wont have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period.
If you worked for a railroad, youd apply for Medicare through the Railroad Retirement Board. Otherwise, youd sign up through Social Security.
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Is It Mandatory To Sign Up For Medicare After Age 65
No, it isnt mandatory to join Medicare. People can opt to sign up, or not.
If you don’t qualify for Social Security retirement benefits yet, you may need to manually enroll in Medicare at your local Social Security office, online or over the phone when you turn 65. You can also apply online for your Medicare coverage at www.medicare.gov.
Enrolling in Medicare as soon as youre eligible ensures you get the subsidized health care you deserve without waiting periods or financial penalties.
If you continue to work for a company employing 20 or more people after you turn 65, you could delay your Medicare enrollment. Your employee group plan provides enough medical coverage while youre working, meaning you may be able to wait to sign up for Medicare once you retire without incurring any late penalties.
Why Are You Forced Into Medicare
If you or your spouse worked for at least 10 years in a job where Medicare taxes were withheld , you’ll become automatically eligible for Medicare once you turn 65.
Recent immigrants are not eligible for Medicare, but once they’ve been legal permanent residents for five years and are at least 65, they have the option to purchase Medicare coverageas opposed to getting Medicare Part A for freewhich is the same option available to long-term U.S. residents who, for one reason or another, don’t have a work history that gives them access to premium-free Medicare Part A . Note that immigrants who go on to work for at least 10 years in the US do then become eligible for premium-free Part A Medicare if they’re 65 or older, just like anyone else who has paid into the Medicare system for at least a decade.
Once you become eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A, you have to enroll in Medicare Part A or you forfeit your Social Security benefits. Most individuals are unwilling to forfeit their Social Security benefits, and thus accept the enrollment into Medicare. Note that you’re only required to accept Medicare Part Awhich is premium-free if you’re receiving Social Security benefitsin order to retain your Social Security benefits. You are allowed to reject Medicare Part Bwhich has a premiumif you choose to do so, although you could be subject to a late enrollment penalty if you choose to enroll in Part B at a later date. .
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Can You Get Social Security And Not Sign Up For Medicare
Yes, many people receive Social Security without signing up for Medicare.
Most people arent eligible for Medicare until they turn 65. As you can start collecting Social Security retirement benefits at 62, individuals may have Social Security without Medicare for several years.
Most people enroll in Part B once they turn 65, but you may decide to delay enrolling in Part B if you or your spouse has health insurance through an employer. Be sure to learn more about how Medicare enrollment works in your specific case, though. If you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B when youre first eligible and you dont have other creditable coverage, you could face late enrollment penalties for the rest of the time that you have Part B once you sign up.
As most people dont pay a premium for Part A, theres no reason to cancel the coverage, even if you dont think you need it. You are free to decline other Medicare plans, such as Parts B and D, though again you should make sure you wont cause yourself to go without coverage or have to pay late enrollment penalties in the future.
When Should I Sign Up For Medicare
Generally, we advise people to file for Medicare benefits 3 months before age 65. Remember, Medicare benefits can begin no earlier than age 65. If you are already receiving Social Security, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B without an additional application. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down. You will receive a Medicare card about two months before age 65. If you would like to file for Medicare only, you can apply by calling 1-800-772-1213. Our representatives there can make an appointment for you at any convenient Social Security office and advise you what to bring with you. When you apply for Medicare, we often also take an application for monthly benefits. You can apply for retirement benefits online.
If you didnt sign up when you were first eligible for Medicare, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period between January 1 and March 31 each year, unless you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.