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How do I enroll in original Medicare?

En español | It's easy if you receive Social Security retirement benefits: The Social Security Administration will automatically enroll you in Medicare when you turn 65. If you are under 65 and get disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will enroll you in Medicare after you have received benefits for 24 months.

Otherwise, you have to enroll yourself during your initial open enrollment period, which is three months before and after the month of your 65th birthday. If you miss your deadline for signing up for Medicare and don't qualify for an exception, you can only enroll during Medicare's general enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Most people will sign up for Medicare Part A (which covers hospitalization, some nursing home and home health care, and hospice) when they turn 65 because it is usually free. (See information about Medicare costs for more details.) If you do enroll in Part A and also have coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, you will need to notify the insurer as soon as you qualify.

You must have Part A before you sign up for Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient care, and before getting Part D's prescription drug coverage. Both require monthly premiums, unless you qualify for financial subsidies. You should sign up for Part B — and avoid any late enrollment penalties — if:

  • You or your spouse has employer-sponsored health coverage from an employer with fewer than 20 workers.
  • You or your spouse do not have health insurance.
  • You're eligible for health benefits under the military's TRICARE For Life retiree program or have health coverage through Veterans Affairs.

There may be some other rules that apply to your situation. For more details and individual assistance, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 (TTY: 877-486-2048) or contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (or SHIP) at



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