That varies depending on your own circumstances. You’ll receive your Medicare card in your Welcome to Medicare package. When it arrives depends on how you enroll in Medicare:
- Automatic. You’ll get a Medicare card without additional effort if you already receive Social Security benefits.
- Delay. You can defer Medicare coverage if you’re getting Social Security but must take steps to do so.
- Sign-up. You haven’t started receiving Social Security but want to begin Medicare at age 65.
What if I’m already getting Social Security benefits?
If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits at least four months before your 65th birthday, your enrollment in Medicare is automatic. You’ll receive your card in the mail three months before your Medicare coverage starts.
You can start using the card at the beginning of the month you turn 65 or the first day of the previous month if your birthday falls on the first day of the month. The start date for Part A and Part B will appear on the front of the card.
You’re enrolled automatically in parts A and B, except in Puerto Rico, where you’re enrolled automatically only in Part A.
Most people don’t pay premiums for Part A because they or their spouse had Medicare taxes deducted from their paychecks for at least 40 quarters of work, the equivalent of 10 years. But you will pay premiums for Part B.
Your Medicare Part B premiums, $164.90 a month in 2023, are typically deducted automatically from your Social Security benefits. High earners pay higher premiums.
What if I have Social Security but don’t want Medicare yet?
If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits and are enrolled in Medicare automatically, you must keep Part A coverage. You can decide whether you want to keep Part B.
If you don’t have health insurance from your own or your spouse’s current employer, you usually need to keep Part B. Otherwise, you may have coverage gaps and have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up later.
If you or your spouse is still working and you have health insurance from a company with 20 or more employees, you may not need Part B or its premiums yet. If you don’t want to keep Part B, check the box on the back of the Medicare card that says, “I do NOT want Part B (Medical Insurance),” sign the back of the card and send it back to Medicare.
You’ll receive a new card in a few weeks noting that you’re enrolled in Part A only.