When can you get Medicare?

October 21, 2021

As you enter your mid-sixties, you’ll notice a change. Mail will start to arrive, emails will hit your inbox, and your internet ads will start to be about the same topic: Medicare.

While you’re likely familiar with the generalities of Medicare, you probably don’t know the deep details (and no one will blame you for that). Let’s talk about the most important thing to know first — when can you get Medicare?

Medicare Enrollment Periods

Medicare has defined enrollment periods in which you can join plans. If you’ve had health insurance through your employer or the Health Insurance Marketplace, you’re already familiar with this concept.

In general, most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. 3 months before your 65th birthday, you’ll enter your Initial Enrollment Period. This is your first (and our favorite) opportunity to take advantage of the many benefits available. This enrollment window lasts for 3 months following your birthday month (for a total of 7 months).

If you do not enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period, you’ll have to wait for the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) or you’ll need to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period by changing employment status, marital status, moving out-of-state, or having another life-changing event.

Medicare before age 65

There are some instances when someone can be eligible for Medicare benefits before age 65.

If you receive disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB), you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare, regardless of age.

If you are diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), you’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicare when your disability benefits start.

If you are diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant, you are also eligible for Medicare regardless of age.

Medicare basics

If you’re just starting to explore Medicare, there is a lot to consider. Download our free ebook, Medicare 101, to get the important details laid out in an easy-to-read format. This guide covers:

  • Original Medicare and its parts
  • Important enrollment timelines
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Medicare Supplement Insurance plans
  • Medicare Advantage plans
  • And much more!

Once you’re eligible and enrolled in Medicare, SmartMatch can help you navigate the rest. Simply give us a call at (888) 411-7647 TTY:711 or visit our Plan Comparison Tool to get started.

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