Medicare Eligibility Age

Whether to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 has been a topic of heated discussion for some time now, especially within the context of recent debates on Medicare reform.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, raising the eligibility age for Medicare would result in a 5% reduction in Medicare expenditures. Yet at present there are no plans to deprive Americans 65 and over of the right to enroll in Medicare.

Some Americans are Medicare-eligible long before turning 65 due to disability or end-stage renal disease. For the remainder of Americans, however, the age for Medicare eligibility is 65.

Initial Enrollment in Medicare

If, like the majority of Americans, you become eligible for Medicare at 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you enroll during the first three months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage should begin the first day of your birthday month. If your birthday falls on the first of the month, coverage should begin on the first of the previous month.

Things to Consider:

Waiting to enroll in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) until after the first three months of your initial enrollment period have passed may cause your start date to be delayed, so it’s best to enroll well before your 65th birthday if possible.

If you don’t sign up during your initial enrollment period, you’ll have to wait until the following year’s General Enrollment Period lasting from January to March. Such a delay can be costly. You may go without coverage you need, and you should also be aware that Medicare Part B premiums—if your enrollment is delayed by a year or more—increase by 10% for each year you could have enrolled but didn’t.

If you’re considering Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, delaying enrollment in Part D can be costly. Although prescription drug coverage is voluntary, it’s a wise investment that can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you don’t join a Medicare prescription drug plan as soon as you become eligible for Medicare, you may face penalties and limited enrollment opportunities if you want to join later.

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