Everyone has a birthday every year, whether they like it or not. Inevitably, the ‘60s arrive and seniors begin looking ahead at the M word – Medicare.

There is a lot of confusion about Medicare, and Retiree Health Choices is going to cover various aspects of Medicare in this new blog series, Understanding Medicare.

When Seniors Approach 65-Years-Old

No one should wait until they are 65-years-old to enroll in Medicare; in fact, that’s too late.

About halfway through 63-years-old, it’s important to start researching the basics about Medicare.

Who Is Eligible for Medicare?

A senior is eligible for Medicare if they worked a minimum of 10 years for an employer. Medicare taxes were deducted from each payroll check and added into the federal government program.

  • Medicare recipients must be a citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident.
  • Once people reach 65-years-old and meet a variety of conditions or factors, they are automatically eligible for Medicare even if they are not eligible for Social Security benefits.
  • The usual age to begin receiving benefits is 65-years-old; however, people younger may receive benefits due to disability or end-stage renal disease.
  • Some 65-year-olds who already get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board are eligible for Part A Medicare (hospitalization) without having to pay premiums. A quick definition of Medicare Part A is that everyone registers for it and it covers hospital insurance such as hospital stays, hospice, some home health care and also care in a skilled nursing facility.
  • Two spouses, who have had Medicare-covered government employment, may also get Part A Medicare without paying premiums. If someone hasn’t filed for Social Security or railroad benefits, they are eligible for Part A Medicare, too.

For the conditions listed above, the premium for Medicare Part B (physician visits) is extra. In 2013, that premium is $104.90. If someone gets social security, railroad benefits or civil service retirement checks, the premium for Part B is deducted. If not, they get a bill every three months.

Everyone also signs up for Medicare Part B. This is medical insurance to cover certain types of physician services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.