Medicare is a government-sponsored health insurance program, which is most often associated with U.S. residents 65 years and older. Medicare is also available for people under age 65 meeting specific qualifying conditions. Medicare eligibility for people under age 65 was initiated in 1973 when the program expanded its enrollment base to all qualified U.S. residents in need.
How do you get Medicare if you are under 65? Medicare consists of four main coverage parts. Medicare Parts A, B, C and D all have specific enrollment requirements for people under 65. Read ahead to learn how to get Medicare if you are under 65.
Most qualified U.S. residents are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they reach 65 years of age. The requirements are different for people signing up for Medicare plans under the age of 65. Standard Medicare age requirements are not applicable to people with qualified debilitating medical, mental, emotional or other issues.
Enrollment is not automatic for people under age 65, however, and extended waiting periods during the verification process do apply. Once enrolled, the costs and coverage policies for all four Medicare parts are essentially the same for people of all ages.
Numerous specific Medicare enrollment requirements apply to people under 65. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and Medicare work hand-in-hand to provide health insurance to qualified people in need.
People under 65 years of age enrolling in Medicare must have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least two years prior to enrolling. SSDI and Railroad Retirement Board benefits enrollment are both lengthy and comprehensive processes that verify all applicable disabilities and ailments. Once approved, another five-month waiting process is enacted prior to your Medicare benefits becoming active.
Exceptions to the waiting period are made for enrollees suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
Members with one of those diseases who also paid into Medicare for at least ten years are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B with no waiting period applied. Requirements for Medicare Parts C and D are different and involve third-party private insurance companies selling policies on the open market.
Medicare Parts B, C and D all carry premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for most members as well. It is also important to sign up for Medicare during its designated enrollment periods to guarantee timely coverage and avoid late-enrollment fees.