Eligibility and enrollment
Medicare is a federal program that offers health insurance
to American citizens and other eligible individuals.
Who can get Medicare?
U.S. citizens and legal residents
Legal residents must live in the U.S. for at least 5 years in a row, including the 5 years just before applying for Medicare.
You must also meet one of the following requirements:
• Age 65 or older
• Younger than 65 with a qualifying disability
• Any age with a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease or ALS
How do you enroll?
You should be automatically enrolled if you are receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits when you become eligible. You’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail.
If you’re not receiving benefits, you need to sign up for Medicare when you become eligible. Go to SSA.gov/Medicare to enroll online, or call or visit your local Social Security office.
What are the coverage choices?
Original Medicare (Parts A & B) is provided by the federal government. It helps pay for hospital stays and doctor visits, but it doesn’t cover everything.
You may add coverage by enrolling in one or more private Medicare or Medicare‑related plans.
• Medicare supplement insurance plans (Medigap) help pay some of the out‑of‑pocket costs that come with Original Medicare.
• Medicare prescription drug plans (Part D) help pay for prescription medications. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs.
• Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) offer an alternative to Original Medicare. Plans combine Part A and Part B coverage in one plan. They often include prescription drug coverage, too. Some plans offer additional benefits like coverage for routine vision and dental care.