Medicare Age Eligibility

HealthCare Writer

Updated on July 17th, 2024

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Who Can Get Medicare?

 In the U.S., Medicare is the go-to healthcare program for older individuals 65 and up, but it’s also there for people under 65 with certain disabilities, and those with ESRD (end-stage renal disease) or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

To receive Medicare benefits, you need to be a U.S. citizen or have been living here legally for at least five years.

What It Costs: 

For most, Medicare Part A won’t cost a dime, but there are some deductibles and copays to keep in mind.

Medicare Part B, on the other hand, comes with a monthly cost (or premium) for everyone. If you’re making more money, expect to pay a bit more. In 2024, the Part B premium is $174.70.

Signing Up: 

You can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which is the three months before, the month of, and the three months after you turn 65.

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There’s also the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 to December 7. And if you’re leaving a job with group coverage, you can get into Part A and/or Part B without a penalty during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

If You’re Over 65: 

Waiting to join Medicare after you’re 65 could lead to a 10% Part B premium penalty for every year you delay. But, if you’re working past 65 and have insurance through your job, you can get a SEP to sign up without penalties.

If You’re Under 65:

You might qualify for Medicare before 65 if you have ESRD, are getting SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits, or have ALS. The timing for when you can start varies—ALS patients get covered immediately, but SSDI recipients usually wait 24 months.

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Next Steps

To make the most of Medicare, assess your eligibility and enrollment periods. If you’re approaching 65, plan to sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid penalties. If you’re already 65 and delaying enrollment due to job-based insurance, ensure you understand your Special Enrollment Period options. For those under 65 with qualifying conditions, confirm your specific eligibility and start dates. Take these steps now to secure the health coverage you need.

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