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When Does Medicare Coverage Start

The start of your Medicare depends on your specific situation and when you enrolled. Below, we’ll go over what you need to know about when Medicare coverage starts.

When Does Medicare Start?

For most people, Medicare coverage starts the first day of the month you turn 65. Some people delay enrollment and remain on an employer plan. Others may take premium-free Part A and delay Part B.

If someone is on Social Security Disability for 24 months, they qualify for Medicare. Those with End-Stage Renal Disease will be immediately eligible for Medicare with a diagnosis. When Medicare starts is different for each beneficiary.

People with disabilities, ALS, or End-Stage Renal Disease may be eligible for Medicare before they’re 65. If you qualify for Medicare because of a disability, there is no minimum age for receiving benefits. However, most beneficiaries get Medicare at age 65.

Some people wait until they retire to start collecting benefits. For some, that could be 66 years old; for others, waiting until 70 to get delayed retirement credits may be the most beneficial retirement plan.

If you choose to enroll at age 65, benefits start on the first day of the month you turn 65. For example, if you turn 65 on June 30th, your coverage begins on June 1st. However, if your birthday is on the 1st, your Medicare will begin the first day of the month before you turn 65. You can get Medicare at age 65 even if you’re not collecting Social Security. So, you can keep working and take your Medicare if that’s the path you want to choose.

When Does Medicare Open Enrollment Start?

For most people, it’s best to enroll during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period. Begin three months before you turn 65. It includes your birth month, and it ends three months after your birth month.

If you want your benefits to start at the beginning of the month, you turn 65, be sure to sign up at least a month before your birthday. You can also enroll in Part D prescription coverage or a Medicare Advantage plan at this time.

Those that don’t sign up for Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period may pay a late enrollment penalty. You’ll pay the penalty every month for the rest of your life for as long as you have coverage.

Examples of Creditable Coverage

For example, you work for a large employer, and the health plan is creditable coverage. In this scenario, delaying enrollment would make sense, especially if the coverage is better than Medicare.

Although, group coverage better than Medicare isn’t the typical scenario. Many people work for small employers; when this is your situation, Medicare is primary. So, if you don’t have Medicare, and you only have the group plan, the employer plan won’t pay until your Medicare is active.

Further, COBRA is NOT creditable coverage for Medicare. When you delay Part B without creditable coverage, a late enrollment penalty could be coming your way.

Even those with TRICARE need to enroll in Medicare to keep their benefits. However, if you have TRICARE, it’s unlikely you’ll benefit from extra Medicare coverage.

You can enroll online, by phone, or by visiting your local Social Security office. Once enrollment is complete, you’ll receive a red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail.

When Does Medicare Advantage Coverage Start?

The date your Medicare Advantage plan starts depends on the enrollment period and your eligibility. Those turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare, can select an advantage plan 3-month before the effective date.

When you pre-enroll in your plan, you save yourself from scrambling. Medicare is one thing you don’t want to procrastinate on. Many people change plans during the Annual Enrollment Period; if you make a change during this period, your policy will begin on January 1st of the following year.

When to Start a Medicare Supplement Plan?

Medigap is extra insurance that fills in the gaps in Medicare. Medigap plans can pay for more extended hospital stays. Your one-time Medigap Open Enrollment Period starts on the 1st day of the month you’re 65 years old and have Part B.

Signing up for Medigap during Open Enrollment means the insurance company CAN’T charge you more or deny you coverage. If you wait and sign up, you can be turned down or charged more because of your health.

At What Age Should You Start Looking Into and Applying for Medicare?

You should start looking into and applying for Medicare for up to 6 months before you become eligible.

How to Get Started with Medicare

The first thing to do to get started with Medicare is to enroll in Part A & Part B. Once you have your Part B effective date, you'll then choose your supplemental coverage. At Medicare FAQ, we help you understand your options and find the coverage that’s best for you. To get started, fill out a rate comparison form, or give us a call at the number above. We can help you navigate Medicare and help you prepare for when Medicare starts.

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Jagger Esch

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.

8 thoughts on “When Does Medicare Coverage Start

  1. My husband turned 65 on June 30, 2021. He signed up for Medicare within the allotted time period following his birthday to avoid any fines. We are on COBRA as of 11/2020 due to my layoff, and he is self-employed and on my COBRA plan. His Medicare part A started 6/1/21, but B&D don’t start until 12/1/21. My COBRA insurance provider, Cigna, has stopped paying for many of (not all – they have paid about half!) of his claims since 6/1/21, even though we told them his Medicare doesn’t start until 12/1/21. I’ve talked with Cigna 4 times since, and they’re doing an internal investigation regarding who is supposed to pay. Do you know the rules regarding if COBRA should cover the period before he starts Medicare 12/1/21, even though he is 65? I’m sure we’re not the only people experiencing this issue…???

    1. Hi Carolyn – COBRA is not creditable coverage for Medicare Part B. Therefore, your husband should drop COBRA and pick up Part B and Part D because loss of coverage (voluntary or involuntary) will qualify him for a Special Enrollment Period. With COBRA as his medical insurance, he has been exposed to the late enrollment period for a few months.

  2. I’m 64 (my birth day is march 27 1957
    I plan collecting my ss at age 70
    do I have to sign up for part A when I turn to 65 or can I wait until 70
    between 65-70 can I still have obama care which I currently have

    1. Hi Loi! Part A is premium-free, most beneficiaries choose to enroll once they turn 65. There would be no reason to delay. Once you’re eligible for Medicare, you are no longer eligible for Obamacare. You can keep your coverage if you choose to, but if you were not already signed up you could not sign up once Medicare eligible. If you have a subsidy through the Marketplace, you will no longer receive it and will pay the full premium for Obamacare. In most cases, it’s cheaper to enroll in Medicare vs. keep Obamacare. Part A is premium-free, Part B comes with a monthly premium which is currently $148.50. Then you want to decide between a Medicare Advantage Plan & Medigap plan to fill in the gaps in coverage.

  3. Thank you Lindsay. I have been reading that my Medicare coverage start date will go back (retroactively) 6 months from when I sign up. I don’t understand this, but thought that I would have to stop contributing to my HSA six months prior to signing up for Medicare. But I will plan to stop contributing to my HSA the month before I am enrolled in Medicare.

    1. If your coverage is going to be retroactive, then it’s advised to not make any contributions during that retroactive period. You could be penalized 6% tax on those excess contributions. However, you can always withdraw the amount you paid to avoid paying the excise tax.

  4. I am turning 70 on 8/24/21 and will start taking SS then. I understand that I also will be enrolled into Medicare Part A when I take SS. I will continue to work at a large employer through the end of 2021 where I have a high deductible health plan that I plan to keep to the end of 2021 and drop it for Medicare A and B starting 2022. I am contributing to a health saving account and want to contribute as long as I can. What is the latest date that I can sign up for Medicare? Is this the date I sign up for SS? And, what date must I stop contributing to the HSA?

    1. Hi Richard! You must enroll in Part A if you’re collecting Social Security, so the latest date you can sign up for Medicare is the same date your Social Security starts. Therefore, if you begin collecting SS benefits when you turn 70, you must enroll in Part A at that time. Part A is premium-free, you can have both Part A and your high deductible plan at the same time. Beginning the first month you’re enrolled in Medicare, you’re not allowed to contribute any monies into your HSA. This means you will enroll in Part A, stop contributing to your HSA, and start collecting SS benefits at the same time. I hope this helps!


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