For most people, the first time you can enroll in Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment period which is the 7 months surrounding your 65th birthday.

During initial enrollment you can sign up for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance).

Signing up for Parts A and B will then automatically qualify you to enroll in Part C, Part D, and Medigap.

If you miss initial enrollment, you can still sign up during General Enrollment each year which is Jan 1 – Mar 31 (although you can end up paying a late-enrollment penalty if you miss initial enrollment).

With the above said, the general rules above don’t apply to all cases. For example, people who qualify for Medicare early due to a disability may be able to enroll before the 7 month period surrounding their 65th birthday. Or for example, people with employer-based health plans may delay Part B coverage due to its premium and then enroll in Part B during their 8 month Special Enrollment Period (SEP) when they stop working.

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