When are you Eligible to Apply for Medicare?
Eligibility for Medicare Part A
You are eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65 if you or your spouse has legally worked for at least 10 years in the U.S. During those years, you paid taxes toward your Part A hospital benefits. This is why most Americans pay no Part A premiums when they become eligible for Medicare. Part A mainly covers your hospital stays.
If you have not worked the required 10 years, Part A may be available for you to purchase. Contact Social Security to find out the cost. If you must purchase Part A, the coverage will cost over $400/monthly. In some cases, however, there are partial premiums for people who have worked over 30 but less than 40 quarters.
Eligibility for Medicare Part B
You are eligible for Medicare Part B at age 65 as well. However, you must pay a monthly premium for Part B. This provides for your outpatient benefits such as doctor visits, lab work, surgery fees, and more. Check out our Part B page for more on what Part B covers.
Some people turning 65 still have health insurance through an employer. They can delay their enrollment into Part B in favor of their group health insurance without fearing a late penalty.
If you delay enrollment into Part B, consult with an insurance agent who specializes in Medicare. He or she can explain the special election periods which you must use later on so that you won’t be subject to a late enrollment penalty.