How can I sign up for Medicare & choose a plan?

Some people get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically, and other people need to sign up through Social Security.

If you're over 65 (or turning 65 in the next 3 months) and not already getting benefits from Social Security, you need to sign up to get

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)

 and 

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

 . You won't get Medicare automatically.

Note
Sign up for Medicare online or contact Social Security. Social Security will review your records to see if you qualify for Medicare.
When will I get my Medicare card?

You'll get your Medicare card in the mail about 2 weeks after you sign up. Your card is included in your official "Welcome to Medicare" packet.

Should I get Part B?

Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65, but certain people may choose to delay Part B. Find out more about whether you should take Part B.

Note
If you don't qualify for premium-free Part A, you must sign up for Part B to buy Part A.

If you’re already get benefits from Social Security, you'll get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically when you're first eligible and don't need to sign up. Medicare will send you a "Welcome to Medicare" packet 3 months before you turn 65. You'll still have other important deadlines and actions to take, so read all of the materials in the packet. (If you live in Puerto Rico, you'll only get Part A. If you want Part B, you need to sign up for it.).

In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Part A (if you have to buy it) and Part B when you’re first eligible, your enrollment may be delayed and you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Learn more about how to get Medicare Part A and Part B based you your situation.

When can I join a Medicare health or drug plan?

When you first become eligible for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65)), you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or Medicare drug plan.

There are specific times when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or a Medicare drug plan, or make changes to coverage you already have.

  • General Enrollment Period. If you have Part A coverage and you get Part B for the first time during this period, you can also join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan. Your coverage may not start until July 1.
  • Open Enrollment Period. From October 15 – December 7 you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan. Your coverage will begin on January 1 (as long as the plan gets your request by December 7).

You may have a chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period when certain life events happen (like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP. Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods.

Can I make changes to my coverage at any other times?

You can make changes to your coverage after December 7 during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31 each year).

  • If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage).
  • You can drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. You’ll also be able to join a Medicare drug plan.

Learn more about joining a health or drug plan.

Find a health or drug plan

Shop for and compare health and drug plans that meet your needs. You can also enter your drugs to get more accurate costs for plans in your area.

How do I buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy?

If you have Original Medicare, Medigap can help pay some of the remaining health care costs for covered services and supplies, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period automatically starts the month you're 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), and it can't be changed or repeated.

Learn more about buying a Medigap policy.