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All US citizens are eligible for Medicare either when they turn 65 or when they retire and lose employer or group coverage. Here’s what you need to know about the process.
If you are turning 65, you can sign up for Original Medicare in the 3 months before your birthday month, during your birthday month, or the 3 months after your birthday month. This is referred to as the Initial Enrollment Period.
You may be eligible to apply for Medicare under special circumstances, such as after your employment or group health insurance ends. These circumstances fall under what Medicare refers to as Special Enrollment Periods.
If you missed the sign up for Medicare, you can still sign up during a General Enrollment Period (January 1 - March 31). Failure to sign up for Medicare coverage during the Initial Enrollment Period can result in penalties:
Medicare Part A: 10% late enrollment penalty applied to your monthly premium for twice the number of years you did not have Part A despite being eligible.
Medicare Part B: 10% late enrollment penalty applied to your monthly premium for each full 12-month period that you did not have Part B despite being eligible. In most cases, this penalty will be added to your monthly premium for the remainder of your enrollment in Medicare.
Each person must sign up for Medicare individually. There is no spousal coverage with Medicare.