Time to enroll in Medicare?

You can enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, which is three months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and three months after. If you are under age 65, you may be able to enroll if you have a qualifying event.

It’s important that you know that there may be penalties if you do not enroll. If you decide to delay enrollment, you may have to pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty.

If you are working now and are covered by your employer or your spouse’s employer, the size of the employer determines whether you can delay enrollment without paying the penalty:

  • If the employer has less than 20 employees, and you enroll in Part A and Part B during your initial enrollment period, Medicare will pay before your other coverage. It is best to enroll as soon as you are eligible. If you do not, you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty and have a gap in coverage.
  • If the employer has 20 or more employees, talk with your benefits administrator. Ask if they have group health plan coverage as defined by the IRS. If they do, you may be able to delay enrolling in Part A and Part B without paying a lifetime late enrollment penalty.
  • If you are getting retiree coverage from an employer, you should sign up for Part A and Part B as soon as you are eligible.
  • If you have marketplace or other private insurance, you should sign up when you are first eligible and drop your other insurance so that it stops when your Medicare coverage starts.

You have eight months after employer coverage ends to enroll without paying a penalty. This is true whether or not you choose COBRA.

Coordinating benefits with your group plan

Please know that Medicare is the primary coverage in certain situations. If you qualify for Medicare Part B, but do not enroll when Medicare is the primary coverage, an employer health plan may not pay for a covered expense that Medicare Part B covers. For example, this may affect you if you have one of the following types of coverage: individual, a group with under 20 employees, domestic partner, COBRA or retiree. This also applies if you are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, and your employer has less than 100 employees. If one of these situations applies and you do not have Medicare Part B, your plan could reduce the amount paid by the amount Medicare Part B would pay, and you would need to pay the amount due.

Find out about eligibility and timing

See our Medicare Advantage plans

Last updated Sep. 26, 2018
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