Medicare is a public health insurance program run and administered by the United States Federal Government. Most US citizens and permanent residents over the age of 65 are eligible. Previous health issues or preexisting conditions do not impact an individual’s eligibility for Medicare coverage. Medicare comes in multiple parts. Part A covers hospital insurance, and is free for individuals who have worked and paid taxes for ten or more years. Part B covers medical insurance and outpatient visits, and a premium must be paid for coverage. Where a person starts the process to enroll for Medicare benefits depends on their current status.
For a small number of individuals with documented disability, who are under the age of 65 but receiving Social Security benefits, enrollment is automatic, and there is no need to apply. Individuals with dialysis-dependent end stage renal disease, and individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) also fall under this category of automatic enrollment.
For individuals who will be over the age of 65, and eligible to apply for both Social Security benefits as well as Medicare coverage, they can enroll simultaneously in both, by one of three ways. Either visit the US government Social Security website online, call the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and follow directions, or make an appointment to apply in person at their local Social Security Administration Office. For these individuals, the application should begin no more than three months before they turn 65 to ensure that their Medicare Part B coverage date begins promptly.
Finally, for individuals who only wish to apply for Medicare, they must apply either in person at their local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213. A prompt application before the individual turns 65 will ensure that they have no gaps in coverage.