Last Revised: May 1998
There are two parts to Medicare: hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B).
If a person is age 65 or ever and eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, they will automatically qualify for the hospital insurance (Part A). If a person is not entitled to these benefits, they should ask about hospital insurance and medical insurance at the nearest Social Security Office. Application should be made two or three months before an employee reaches age 65. If the employee waits until the month they reach age 65, they will lose at least one month of protection.
The medical insurance (Part B) is voluntary and no one is covered automatically. Application must be made within a specific period. A person who did not enroll for the medical insurance part may enroll during the first three months of any year, provided this period begins within three years after they have had their first opportunity to enroll. Those enrolling late may have to pay a higher premium and coverage will not begin until three to six months after enrollment. For more information on health insurance programs under Medicare, contact the local Social Security Office.