If you sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, your coverage starts the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first day of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the prior month.
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When you first get Medicare
When you're first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B.
If you're eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you can sign up during the 7-month period that:
- Begins 3 months before the month you turn 65
- Includes the month you turn 65
- Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65
In most 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. You'll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B and could have a gap in your health coverage.
If you don't enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period
Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you can sign up for Part B and Part A (if you have to pay a premium for it) during the General Enrollment Period between January 1–March 31 each year.
You must pay premiums for Part A and/or Part B. Your coverage will start July 1. You may have to pay a higher premium for late enrollment in Part A and/or a higher premium for late enrollment in Part B.
You may be able to sign up at a different time without a late enrollment penalty if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (see below). If you're eligible, you can sign up for premium-free Part A anytime after your Initial Enrollment Period starts.
Special circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods)
Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you may have the chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. If you're covered under a group health plan based on current employment, you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B anytime as long as:
- You or your spouse (or family member if you're disabled) is working.
- You're covered by a group health plan through the employer or union based on that work.
You also have an 8-month period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B that starts at one of these times (whichever happens first):
- The month after the employment ends
- The month after group health plan insurance based on current employment ends
Usually, you don't pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period.
You may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for Part A and Part B if you're a volunteer, serving in a foreign country.
Consider your Medicare insurance options
Your Medicare eligibility and enrollment dates will also effect your enrollment dates and coverage rights for your other insurance plans. Talk to one of our agents who can help guide your options.