When do I enroll in Medicare?

When you're approaching age 65, it's important to thoroughly research the benefits and costs of each different Medicare insurance plan in your area.  But it's even more important to make sure you enroll at the right time.

Missing an enrollment date could cost you higher premiums down the line or it could cost you coverage entirely. 

If you are already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits when you become eligible for Medicare you won't have to worry about your enrollment date, since the government automatically enrolls you in both Part A and Part B at age 65. (Three months prior to your 65th birthday, your Medicare card will arrive in the mail.) Your only concern of timing would be if you declined Medicare Part B (and missed the initial enrollment window). If you do decline Part B, you will pay higher Part B premiums if you enroll later on. For each year that you don't enroll your premium will be 10 percent higher, unless you're insured by an employer-sponsored health insurance through either you or your spouse. 

If you are not receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits when you become eligible for Medicare you won't be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare. Instead, you'll be able to enroll during one of three enrollment periods.

  • Initial Enrollment Period – a seven-month window of time that begins three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday. The date your Part B coverage starts depends upon how early in the IEP you enroll. If you wait until the last four months of the IEP, the start date of your coverage will be later.

  • General Enrollment Period – January 1 to March 31 of each year. Your coverage will begin on July 1 of the year you enroll.

  • Special Enrollment Period – You can wait to enroll in Part B and not incur a premium hike if you had coverage through your job or your spouse's job at the time you became eligible for Medicare. While you're still covered, you can enroll in Medicare at any time – and for another eight months after you lose your group coverage or you (or your spouse) stop working.

For more information about signing up in Parts A and B you can contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213. If you would like to know more or talk about your options and what plans are available for you, call me at (207) 370-0143. There is never any cost or obligation to discuss your options.

Once you have enrolled in Parts A & B you may need to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan – even if you do not take any medications!


With Medicare's prescription drug coverage, your first opportunity to enroll is when you're first eligible for Medicare (during the seven-month period beginning three months before your 65th birthday).  It's important to note that if you don't enroll during the seven-month period when you're first eligible, you may pay a late-enrollment penalty that will raise your Part D premium when you do decide to purchase coverage. 

During the Open Enrollment Period mentioned above, you can also enroll in a Medicare Part D plan, switch to another Part D plan or leave Part D entirely. Again, pay close attention to the dates as they affect your options.

  • Between October 15 and December 7 – You can join a Part D plan, switch between Part D plans or drop your Part D coverage.

  • Between January 1 and February 14 – You can leave Original Medicare for an Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage. You can not switch from one Part D plan to another.

There is still much more you should know but these are some important dates to keep in mind.  For more information about late enrollment penalties or to ask some specific questions you can call me anytime toll free at (866) 976-9038 or use my Contact Me form on this website to email me. 🙂