Important Dates for Medicare: Navigating Medicare Enrollment Timelines

Important Dates for Medicare: Navigating Medicare Enrollment Timelines

By Randy Strnad, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

These days, age 65 doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. No matter what your plans are, it’s important to understand Medicare’s enrollment timelines and when you need to take action.

When you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare’s Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) if you are already receiving Social Security benefits. If you are not already receiving Social Security benefits, you will need to apply for Medicare coverage.

If you automatically enroll in Parts A and B, it’s time to start exploring your additional health and drug coverage options. You’ll need to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan quickly to avoid late enrollment penalties.

If you are still working when you turn 65, you’ll need to consider your options. If you work for an employer with more than 20 employees, it’s smart to go ahead and enroll in Part A, there’s no cost to you. If you plan to remain on your employer’s health plan, you do not need to enroll in Part B until you stop working.

Once you retire, you’ll need to enroll in Part B right away, even if you plan to remain on a Cobra plan. The deadline to enroll in Part B without a penalty begins as soon as you stop working, not when your employer coverage ends.

If you work for an employer with fewer than 20 employees, you need to enroll in both Parts A & B as soon as you turn 65.

Medicare enrollment can be confusing, and it’s important to make sure you enroll during the right timeframes. When you have questions, turn to your Farm Bureau agent, Randy Strnad, for answers you can trust. You may reach him at or call  (319) 377-3276.