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Discover if you are eligible for Medicare, how to enroll, and what Medicare covers and what it does not cover.

En español | Medicare: Am I Eligible? AARP's Medicare Question and Answer Tool works as an online planning resource, designed to assist those who are eligible for Medicare benefits as well as those who are unsure. The Medicare Q and A Tool acts also as a guide, explaining in plain English eligibility, how to enroll, when to enroll and how to choose the best plan for you. AARP's Medicare Question and Answer Tool is a starting point toward an informed decision about your Medicare coverage and your eligibility.

 

 

 

Eligibility Q & A Home

  

Q: How do I qualify for Medicare?

A: You can qualify for Medicare on the basis of either age or disability.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I retire at age 62, will I be eligible for Medicare?

A: No. You must wait until you are 65 to become eligible for Medicare, unless you’re younger and qualify because of disability. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I’m 65 and my wife is 63. When will she qualify for Medicare?

A: Your wife must wait until she is 65 to qualify for Medicare. Only people who receive Social Security disability benefits are eligible for Medicare at an earlier age. — Read Full Answer

Q: Do I automatically receive Medicare if I qualify for disability benefits?

A: No. In most cases you must have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years before Medicare coverage begins. But there are two exceptions. — Read Full Answer

Q: Can I get Medicare if I have advanced kidney disease?

A: Yes, you may qualify for Medicare at any age if you have permanent kidney failure that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant, and if you meet certain conditions. — Read Full Answer

Q: When is the best time to buy Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap)?

A: The best time to buy Medigap insurance depends on your age, where you live, and when you qualify for protections provided under federal or state law. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Will I be eligible to buy a Medigap policy if I have a preexisting medical condition?

A: Yes, if you are 65 or older and buy a policy during defined periods when you receive protections known as “guaranteed issue” under federal law. But if you are under 65 and qualify for Medicare through disability, it depends on whether your state provides similar protections. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Can I get Medicare if I live overseas?

A: No. Medicare doesn’t cover medical care outside the United States, except for very limited situations along the Canadian and Mexican borders. If you’re living overseas when you become eligible for Medicare, it’s important to understand your options for enrollment. — Read Full Answer

Q: Will Medicare cover me if I travel outside the United States?

A: Medicare doesn’t pay for medical services outside the United States and its territories except in rare circumstances, but certain types of additional insurance may pay in emergencies.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: Can I qualify for Medicare at 65 or older if I haven’t applied for Social Security retirement benefits?

A: Yes — provided that you meet the conditions for Medicare eligibility.— Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Initial Enrollment Q & A Home

 

Q: How do I join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

A: First you must select a Part D drug plan out of many available in your state. Then there are several options for the process of signing up.— Read Full Answer

Q: How can I tell which Part D prescription drug plans provide good service?

A: Medicare assigns a quality rating to each plan, based on its customer service and other measures, to help beneficiaries choose a plan. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Is enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan automatic or do I need to enroll directly with the plan?

A: You need to enroll directly with the plan, during a designated enrollment period.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: When can I join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

A: You can join a Part D prescription drug plan, or switch to another, during a designated enrollment period.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: I have original Medicare (Parts A and B). Do I also have to enroll separately in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage?

A: You may not need Part D if you have “creditable” drug coverage from elsewhere. But otherwise, the only way Medicare will help pay for your prescription drugs is if you join a stand-alone Part D drug plan. — Read Full Answer

Q: Do I have to join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

A: No, Part D is a voluntary benefit. But if you don’t enroll in a Part D drug plan when you’re first eligible — and if you don’t have comparable drug coverage from elsewhere — you risk delayed coverage and permanent late penalties if you want to join at a later date. — Read Full Answer

Q: Do I need Medicare Part D drug coverage if I take no prescription drugs, or only the occasional one?

A: You should seriously consider enrolling in a Part D prescription drug plan, if you don’t have comparable drug coverage from elsewhere, to protect yourself against possible high drug costs in the future. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Open Enrollment Q & A Home

 

Q: What actions can I take during Medicare open enrollment each year?

A: Medicare’s open enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. It gives people who are already enrolled in Medicare the opportunity to review their current coverage and, if they want, switch to a different plan for the following year. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I have a Medicare Advantage plan, can I switch to original Medicare during open enrollment?

A: Yes, you can make this change during the open enrollment period or during the annual “disenrollment period” that soon follows it. — Read Full Answer

Q: What are my options if my Medicare Advantage plan is ending at the end of this year?

A: If your Medicare Advantage plan ceases coverage, you can transfer to another Medicare Advantage plan of your choice or return to coverage provided under the original Medicare program. — Read Full Answer

Q: If I am unhappy with my Medicare Advantage plan, can I switch plans?

A: Yes, you can switch plans, but only at certain times, according to your circumstances. — Read Full Answer

Q: If I am satisfied with my current Medicare coverage, do I need to make any changes during Medicare’s open enrollment period?

A: If you’re happy with your current coverage, you don’t need to do anything during open enrollment. But it’s still worth considering the alternatives to ensure that you continue to get your best deal.— Read Full Answer

Q: If I change my Medicare plan during open enrollment, when will my new coverage start?

A: If you switch to a different Medicare plan during open enrollment (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year), coverage begins on Jan. 1. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I drop my Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage during open enrollment, can I pick it up in the future without a penalty?

A: If you drop your Part D coverage without having comparable drug coverage from elsewhere, you will pay late penalties when you reenroll in Part D. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: How often can I change my Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

A: You always get one opportunity each year to change from one Part D drug plan to another during open enrollment, but you may be able to change at other times of the year in certain circumstances. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I have a Medigap policy and cancel it, can I get it back during open enrollment?

A: No. Medicare’s open enrollment period (which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7) does not apply to Medigap supplemental insurance. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: Do I have to reenroll in my Medicare Part D prescription drug plan every year?

A: No. If you’re happy with your plan, you don’t need to reenroll. But you should check whether the plan’s costs and coverage will change for the coming year. — Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Special Enrollment Q & A Home

 

Q: I did not enroll in Medicare when I turned 65 and was first eligible. Can I sign up later?

A: Yes, you can still sign up for Medicare after turning 65, but exactly when you can do so depends on your circumstances. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I will not retire until age 70. Do I still have to sign up for Medicare at age 65? 

A: Probably not, if you have health insurance from your own or your spouse’s employer. But it may also depend on whether the employer has at least 20 employees or fewer than 20.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: Who can delay Medicare Part B enrollment beyond age 65 without getting hit with late penalties?

A: You can delay Part B without risking late penalties only in two situations: if you have health care coverage through active employment, or if you’ve been living abroad and are not entitled to Part A benefits without paying premiums for them. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I’m about to lose health insurance from my employer. How soon must I sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage to avoid being hit with late penalties?

A: To avoid late penalties, you need to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan within two months after losing creditable drug coverage from elsewhere.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: If I move out of my Part D drug plan’s service area in the middle of the year, when can I switch to another plan? Or must I wait for Medicare’s open enrollment period in the fall?  

A: If you move out of your drug plan’s service area partway through the year, you get a special enrollment period to sign up with another plan in your new location. You need not — and should not — wait for open enrollment.— Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Late Enrollment Q & A Home

Q: I did not sign up for Medicare Part B when I first became eligible. Will there be any consequences of that decision if I later decide to enroll?  

A: If you delayed Part B enrollment because you were covered by health insurance provided by an employer for which you or your spouse actively works, there are no adverse consequences — provided that you sign up for Part B within eight months of the job ending. Otherwise, you will likely face a prolonged gap in coverage and be liable for late penalties. — Read Full Answer

 

Q: I’m about to lose health insurance from my employer. How soon must I sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage to avoid being hit with late penalties?  

A: To avoid late penalties, you need to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan within two months after losing creditable drug coverage from elsewhere.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: I did not sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage when I was first eligible. If I want to sign up now, is there a penalty?

A: In most situations, you are liable for late penalties if you go for more than 63 days without Part D coverage or comparable drug coverage from elsewhere. The penalties are waived in some circumstances.— Read Full Answer

 

 

 

Penalties Q & A Home

 

Q: How much is the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part A?

A: The vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries do not pay premiums for Part A, so they cannot be liable for late penalties. But those who pay premiums for Part A are liable for penalties if they miss their enrollment deadline.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: How much is the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B?

A: You will likely face permanent late penalties if you miss your deadline for enrolling in Part B. How much you’d pay each month depends on how long you delayed enrollment and the amount of the standard Part B premium in any given year.— Read Full Answer

 

Q: How much is the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage?  

A: In most situations, you are liable for late penalties if you go for more than 63 days without Part D coverage or comparable drug coverage from elsewhere. The penalties are waived in some circumstances.  Read Full Answer

 

 

 


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