Retirement: What you need to know about signing up for Medicare – Chicago Tribune

When you turn 65, you have to master a new health care system. We have answers to some of your most frequently asked questions about Medicare enrollment.

Q: Do I need to sign up for Medicare, or will I be enrolled automatically?

A: If you signed up for Social Security before age 65 (eligibility for full benefits currently begins at age 66), you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare parts A and B and receive your card three months before your 65th birthday. Part A covers hospitalization and is generally premium-free; Part B covers outpatient care, such as doctors’ visits, x-rays and tests, and costs $134 a month for people who enroll in 2017 (or more for high earners).

Everyone else needs to take steps to enroll — or face a lifetime late-enrollment penalty (unless you’re still working and have employer coverage). Go to to sign up anytime from three months before until three months after you turn 65 (your “initial enrollment period”), even if you are waiting to file for Social Security benefits.


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