There are several different ways to qualify for coverage under Medicare. These requirements are for Hospital Insurance (Part A), Medical Insurance (Part B), and Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D).
Most people who are age 65 or older are eligible based on their own employment, or that of a spouse. You qualify for Medicare coverage if you are 65 or older and receive Social Security Retirement or Railroad Retirement benefits. If you do not have ten years of work (40 quarters of coverage) to qualify for Medicare on your own record, you can qualify on a spouse’s work if the spouse is at least 62 years old and meets the ten year work requirement on their own. The spouse can be a former spouse as long as the marriage lasted for ten years or longer.
If you are a Federal, State, or local government employee that did not pay into Social Security but paid into Medicare you will be eligible when you turn 65.
If you are under the age of 65 you can qualify for Medicare coverage early if you have already received Social Security Disability benefits for 24 months. You can also qualify if you have Lou Gehrig’s disease or End Stage Renal disease.
If you receive disability from Railroad Retirement you will be eligible for Medicare after the waiting period; for more information contact railroad retirement.
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for Medicare you can still enroll by paying the monthly premiums. To sign up for Hospital Insurance under Medicare you will be required to enroll in the Medical Insurance as well. (Both Part A + Part B)
Premiums for Medicare A and B
In 2006 the monthly premium amounts are as follows:
Part A: $393 per month
Part B: $88.50
If you will be turning 65 and are not currently receiving Social Security you should call three months before your birthday to schedule an appointment to enroll in Medicare. If you are still working and are covered by a group health plan due to your employment (or your spouse’s employment) you have the option of declining the Part B coverage so you do not have to pay the $88.50 premium. If you are already receiving Social Security Retirement benefits your Medicare will start automatically on the 1st day of the month you turn 65; you do not need an appointment to enroll.
To enroll in Medicare, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1214.