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Will I be automatically enrolled in Medicare?

Medicare | Feb 17, 2016

Turning 65 does not guarantee you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. In fact, there are only a few specific situations that result in automatic enrollment. If the automatic enrollment criteria do not apply to you, you will have to sign up yourself during an initial enrollment period. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, here are the situations in which you would be automatically enrolled in Medicare:

  • If you already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits when you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B three months before your 65th birthday.
  • If you are under 65 and disabled, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B two years after you began receiving disability benefits.
  • If you have Lou Gehrig's disease, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B the same month you begin receiving disability benefits.

"You can turn down Medicare even if you are automatically enrolled."

Even if you are automatically enrolled, however, you will still have some choices to make. You will have to figure out how you want to receive your coverage as well as whether you need a Medigap policy or a prescription drug plan.

Medicare Interactive explained that once you are automatically enrolled, you will receive a Medicare welcome packet. Within the packet will be your Medicare card as well as a letter telling you all about Medicare. The letter will discuss your premium and explain that it will be taken from your Social Security or Railroad Retirement checks once coverage begins.

What if I don't want to be enrolled in Medicare?
You may already be receiving health insurance somewhere else and don't want to pay the Part B premium. If you are not interested in Medicare, yet you are still automatically enrolled, don't panic. The welcome package also includes instructions on how to turn it down.

If you are not already receiving health insurance from a different provider (such as a spouse's employer), think carefully before turning coverage down. If you decide to enroll in Medicare at a later date, you may be subject to late enrollment penalties. Those who are receiving health benefits from an employer when they turn 65 will have a chance to enroll during a special enrollment period when their coverage ends for no penalties.

What if I am not automatically enrolled in Medicare?
If you do not meet any of the three criteria listed above, make sure to enroll in Medicare during your seven month initial enrollment period, which begins three months before you turn 65 and ends three months afterward. There is also a general enrollment period between January 1 and March 1 every year. You can sign up during this period if you did not sign up during your initial enrollment period and do not qualify for the special enrollment period. As previously stated, though, if you wait until the general enrollment period, you may have to pay a higher premium.