Enrolling in Original Medicare
Most people enroll in Original Medicare as soon as they become eligible at age 65.
When can you enroll?
Initial Enrollment: You have a 7-month period during initial enrollment. You can join 3 months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and up to 3 months after the month you turn 65.
General Enrollment: If you didn’t sign up for Part A and/or Part B during Initial Enrollment, and you aren’t eligible for a Special Enrollment (see below), you can sign up between January 1 - March 31 each year. You may have to pay a higher Part A and or Part B premium for late enrollment.
Special Enrollment: Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you may have the chance to sign up for Medicare during Special Enrollment. If you didn’t sign up for Part A and/or Part B when you were first eligible because you were covered under a group health plan based on current employment, you can sign up:
- Anytime you’re still covered by the group health plan
- During the 8-month period that begins the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happens first.
How to enroll:
Contact Social Security (not Medicare) to enroll for the first time in Original Medicare. There are 3 ways to enroll:
During initial enrollment, Part A (Hospital insurance) is automatic, because there’s no premium; Part B (Medical insurance) is optional, because it requires a monthly premium.
If you choose NOT to enroll in Part B during your initial enrollment, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you change your mind later. The longer you delay, the higher the penalty.