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When Can I Get Medicare?

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Medicare is one type of government health insurance. You can generally qualify for Medicare through two ways: age or disability. You also must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident for at least five continuous years to get Medicare.

When I get Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare)?

If you qualify for Medicare because of age, you may be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when you turn 65 and are eligible for Social Security. If you’re not receiving retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board when you turn 65, you have to manually enroll in Medicare. In some cases, if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare Part B.

If you qualify for Medicare because of a disability, you may be automatically enrolled after you receive disability benefits for 24 months. However, if your disability is end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease, special rules apply to you. If you enroll in Medicare based on ESRD and you’re on dialysis, your coverage usually begins on the first day of the fourth month of your dialysis treatment. If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) you have no waiting period and automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B benefits the month your disability benefits begin.

When can I get Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage offered by private insurance companies. Many Medicare beneficiaries may want Medicare Part D coverage because Original Medicare doesn’t generally cover most prescription drugs you take at home. If you have Original Medicare, you can get a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug Plan. You can also get a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. To be eligible for Medicare Part D you, must have Medicare Part A and/or Part B and live in the service area of your Part D plan. You can enroll during two periods: your Initial Enrollment Period and the Open Enrollment Period.

Your Medicare Part D Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after you turn 65. If you qualify for Medicare because of disability, your initial enrollment period for Medicare Part D starts three months before your 25th month of getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, includes the 25th month of getting disability benefits, and ends three months after your 25th month of getting disability benefits.

If you’re eligible for Medicare Part D and miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can also enroll in Medicare Part D during the Open Enrollment Period, which is October 15-December 7 each year.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part D when you are first eligible and don’t have creditable prescription drug coverage, you may pay a late-enrollment penalty in addition to your Medicare Part D monthly premium.

When can I get Medicare Part C?

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) is another way to get your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits from a private insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans may be attractive because they often offer extra benefits and have out of pocket maximums.

Your Medicare Advantage Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after you turn 65. If you qualify for Medicare because of disability, your initial enrollment period for Medicare Part D starts three months before your 25th month of getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, includes the 25th month of getting disability benefits, and ends three months after your 25th month of getting disability benefits.

If you’re eligible for Medicare Advantage and miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can also enroll in Medicare Advantage during the Open Enrollment Period, which is October 15-December 7 each year.

Unlike Medicare Part B and Part D, there is not late-enrollment penalty for Medicare Advantage. For example, you have Original Medicare for 10 years and then decide you want dental coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. You can enroll in this plan on October 20, for example, and not face any penalty.

When can I get Medicare Supplement?

Medicare Supplement plans go alongside Original Medicare and help pay for out of pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. The best time to enroll in Medicare Supplement is during your six-month Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This period begins the month that you’re both 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. People under 65 who qualify for Medicare because of disability generally don’t have Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Periods. After your Open Enrollment Period is over, you may not be able to enroll in the plan you want.

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