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To make sure that you’re enrolled in Medicare and that your health insurance coverage begins on time, it’s important for you to know when your enrollment period begins and to identify your coverage effective dates.

Original Medicare enrollment

Most Medicare beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. You’re generally enrolled automatically the month you turn 65 if you’re receiving Social Security Administration (SSA) or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits. If you’ve been receiving disability benefits from the SSA or RRB for 24 months, you’re automatically enrolled in Medicare even if you’re younger than 65.

If you’re not automatically enrolled, you may sign up for Original Medicare during your seven-month Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which begins 3 months before you turn 65. If you’re still working, you might not have to sign up during the IEP; see the note below.

When you become eligible for Medicare, or when you sign up, you’ll receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail. Medicare also sends you a Medicare Summary Notice every three months, listing any Medicare services you received during the previous quarter.

When your Original Medicare coverage starts

Your Medicare coverage start date, or the date on which it is “active,” depends on the month during which you enroll:

If you sign up for Original Medicare during: Your coverage starts:
The 3 months prior to turning 65 The month you turn 65
The month you turn 65 1 month after you sign up
1 month after you turn 65 2 months after you sign up
2 months after you turn 65 3 months after you sign up
3 months after you turn 65 3 months after you sign up


As you can see from the table above, any delay in Medicare enrollment will result in delays for you to receive health coverage, so it’s a good idea to sign up for Medicare as soon as you become eligible.

How to confirm that you’re enrolled in Original Medicare

If you’d like to make sure you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you can call the program at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users call 1-877-486-2048.

You can also check your Medicare enrollment online at

Your Original Medicare premium payments

They affect all of your Medicare coverage

To maintain continuous health coverage, make sure you always pay your Original Medicare monthly premiums on time. Many beneficiaries don’t pay a Medicare Part A premium — you don’t have to pay this premium if you (or your spouse) worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes. However, most beneficiaries must pay a monthly Medicare Part B premium, even if they’re enrolled in Medicare Advantage or another Medicare plan option

If you receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRB), or Civil Service benefits, your Medicare premium(s) may be automatically deducted from those benefits. In other cases, you may have to make the Medicare payment yourself when you receive your monthly bill, or choose one of the payment options described below.

You can pay your Original Medicare premium(s) in one of three ways: Sign up for Medicare Easy Pay, which is free and automatically deducts the premium payment from your checking or savings account; pay by check or money order; or pay by credit card.

Medicare plan options beyond Original Medicare

You might also be enrolled in other types of Medicare coverage, such as a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. These Medicare plan options are available from private insurance companies.

  • If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, your Medicare benefits are provided through the plan instead of directly from the government. You should have a wallet-sized card with the plan’s name and contact information on it. You can call the plan to ask about your coverage status and effective dates.
  • If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you also might have signed up for an optional Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. As with Medicare Advantage, you should have a card from the plan that shows the phone number you can call.
  • It’s also possible that you have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) supplement your Original Medicare coverage. Again, the plan (sold by a private health insurance company) should have sent you a card for your wallet that lists the plan’s contact information.

Make sure you pay your plan premiums on time to ensure continuous coverage. And don’t forget the Medicare Part B monthly premium noted above.

This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.


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