When turning 65 you have an opportunity to enroll in Medicare as long as you or your spouse have worked for at least 10 years in covered employment and you are a citizen or permanent resident for at least 5 years. You are also eligible for Medicare if you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or if you are receiving disability benefits from Social Security for 24 months.
Enrolling in Medicare Part A
If you are not receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits you must sign up for Medicare Part A even if you are eligible to get it premium-free. Note that if you will be covered by an Employer Health Plan with more than 20 employees with a Health Spending Account (HSA) option you want to avoid enrolling in Medicare to be eligible for funding of an HSA account.
Enrolling in Medicare Part B
If you are receiving benefits from Social Security, in most cases, you will automatically get Medicare Part B starting the first day of the month that you turn age 65. Premiums will be deducted from Social Security income benefits.
If you are not receiving Social Security benefits and you want to get Medicare Part B you’ll need to sign up during your initial enrollment period which is the seven month period beginning three months before your birth month and ending three months after your month of birth.
If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when first eligible you may have to pay a late enrollment fee for as long as you have Medicare. The late fee is 10% per each full year that you should have had Medicare Part B but didn’t sign up for it. The late penalty does not apply for those that sign up during a Special Enrollment Period. The most common Special Enrollment Period is when Medicare Plan B was not elected because you or your spouse is currently working for a company with over 20 employees and you’re covered by a group health plan based on that work. You can sign up for Medicare within eight months after your coverage ends. A timely enrollment will ensure continuous coverage when you transition from a group health plan to Medicare Part B.