Medicare is a federal healthcare insurance program meant to manage medical costs for seniors and other qualifying Americans. You may qualify for free Medicare coverage if you meet the requirements.
Even if you do not fulfill the qualifying financial requirement, you may still meet requirements for low-cost coverage. Find out if you can sign up for affordable health insurance through the program and when to apply for coverage.
Most people will qualify to enroll in Medicare health plans when they reach 65 years of age. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services set the age of qualification at 65 since this is the time most individuals retire. Medicare coverage makes up for the insurance plan you lose from your employer when you end employment.
If you are younger than 65 but have a qualifying medical condition, you may also enroll in the federal healthcare program. Qualifying medical conditions include certain disabilities and fatal conditions.
Medicare health insurance plans are a federal program. Whether you are of age or have a qualifying medical condition, you must also meet the basic citizenship requirements. You are only able to enroll if you are a U.S. citizen or a qualifying non-citizen.
You are a citizen of the United States if:
- You were born in the country or one of its territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and The Northern Mariana Islands.
- You were born in a foreign country and have been naturalized.
- You were born in a foreign country and at least one of your parents is an American citizen.
You can still sign up for Medicare if you are a non-U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, you must:
- Reside in the U.S. legally as a permanent resident, and
- Have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 consecutive years.
Knowing when to enroll is just as important as knowing when you qualify. This is because it’s important to enroll in Medicare when you first meet requirements, so you don’t become uninsured while waiting for the next enrollment period.