Who can get Medicare? Basically, three groups are eligible:
- Most people 65 and older.
- People younger than 65 who have certain disabilities and illnesses.
- People of any age with kidney failure that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
You might assume that signing up for a big government program like Medicare would be confusing. But it's usually easy. Most people are signed up automatically for Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
For People 65 and Older
If you're already getting Social Security checks, you will be automatically enrolled in traditional Medicare. You'll get your Medicare card three months before your 65th birthday. The benefits kick in on the first day of the month of your 65th birthday. Traditional Medicare, which is also called original Medicare, includes Medicare Parts A and B. Part A is hospital coverage. Part B covers doctor visits, lab tests, and other outpatient services.
If you're not getting Social Security payments already, you have to enroll in Medicare. The Social Security Administration (SSA) handles the enrollment process for Medicare. Call SSA at (800) 772-1213, visit the web site (www.ssa.gov), or apply at your local Social Security office. Apply three months before your 65th birthday. That way, you can be sure that your benefits will start on time.
If you live in Puerto Rico and want Medicare, you need to sign up for Medicare Part B.