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It depends on your situation. If you have worked in a Medicare-covered job for at least 10 years (40 quarters) and paid Seniors Health Insurance taxes during that time, you are eligible for free Seniors Health Insurance Part A (Medicare Part A) and you will be automatically enrolled at age 65, even if you are still working. If your spouse has enough quarters of employment, you can also apply for free Medicare Part A for seniors based on his or her work history.

Another Medicare eligibility requirement is that you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident for at least five consecutive years.

If you do not have enough work history to qualify for free Part A and you already have Medicare through your employer or union (or through your own job or your spouse’s employer), you may choose to defer applying for Medicare for seniors. There are monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, so you may also choose to defer your Part B enrollment if you or your spouse are still working and have employer-based group coverage.

Remember, if you were not enrolled in Medicare for seniors when you first became eligible and do not have other coverage based on current employment status, you may be required to pay a late application penalty at a later date of enrollment. The late filing penalty applies to Part B for seniors (and Part A if you cannot get free Part A).

What parts are included in MEDICARE? What coverage is covered?

One factor to consider is that even if your employer or union provides you with health insurance, Medicare may help you pay for some expenses that are not covered by your group health plan. For example, if you work for a small company (less than 20 employees), it may be useful to enroll in Medicare for seniors, which may be the primary payer before your group health insurance. You may want to consult with your employer or union benefits administrator to find out the specifics of your health insurance and costs compared to Seniors Health Insurance.

If you decide to wait until your group coverage ends to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B for seniors, you will have a special enrollment period of eight months to enroll in Medicare for seniors that begins after you stop working or your group coverage ends, whichever occurs first. You can also enroll in SeniorCare at any time you are still working and have employer-provided coverage at the same time.

If you choose COBRA after you stop working, don’t wait until your COBRA coverage ends to enroll in SeniorCare. If you delay applying for Medicare Part A and/or Part B for seniors after the special application period ends, you must wait until the next open application period (January 1 through March 31 of each year) to enroll and you may have to pay a late application penalty.