Some people may decide to retire early and begin taking their Social Security retirement benefits early. Others might have enough retirement savings to quit working before they start their Social Security benefits. However, since most people get their health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan, what do you do when you retire? The normal eligibility age for Medicare is 65, but can you get it at 62 if you are already retired? What other medical insurance options are available? Keep reading as we give you all the details about qualifying for Medicare at 62 and what other options you might have if you can’t get Medicare.
Can You Get Medicare If You Retire At Age 62?
Generally, no, you cannot get Medicare at 62 if you retire early. You may have recently seen information about Medicare at age 60 in the news, but that is not a change that has taken effect. So, how old do you have to be to get Medicare? Enrollment in Medicare requires that you are 65 or older, although there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. First, if you are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you can qualify for Medicare at any age. Similarly, if you are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you can also qualify for Medicare at any age.
Finally, those who receive Social Security disability benefits can qualify for Medicare at age 62. Typically, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare after your 24th month of SSDI eligibility. These are the only three methods for a younger individual to qualify for Medicare benefits. If you do not meet one of these criteria, you will not be eligible for Medicare until your 65th birthday. We will discuss the full eligibility criteria for Medicare coverage in the next section.
Medicare Eligibility Age Requirements
So, at what age can you get Medicare? There are a couple of requirements that must be met for you to qualify for Medicare. First, you must be 65 or older. Next, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Younger individuals may qualify for Medicare, but they must meet one of the disability criteria, like kidney failure, mentioned in the previous section.
Your initial enrollment period for Medicare benefits begins three months before the month in which you turn 65. It runs through your birthday month and covers three months past your birthday month. During this time, you can enroll in Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, Medicare Part C, and Medicare Part D without any late enrollment penalties. Since Medicare Part B carries a monthly premium, you might decide to opt out of this coverage. However, signing up for Part B coverage later might require the payment of a late penalty unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.
If you are already receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Railroad Retirement Board upon reaching the age of 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare coverage. Remember that the Medicare age and Social Security retirement age are not the same. The full retirement age for Social Security is 66 or 67 for most people. If you are not already receiving your Social Security benefits, you will need to apply for Medicare when you turn 65.
The same age requirements apply to Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap plans, and standalone drug plans as well. Although these plans are managed by private insurance companies, they must follow the same beneficiary eligibility rules as Original Medicare. The Medicare program contracts with these companies to provide this coverage, and you can visit medicare.gov to find a plan in your area.
Health Insurance Enrollment Options For Those Under 65
So, what health plan options do you have if you are under 65? Thankfully, there are several options out there, and you should be able to find one that works for you. Here are the different ways that you can get coverage.
— Employer Sponsored Plan
An employer-sponsored plan is one of the best ways to get health insurance coverage at age 62. Since many people are still working at 62, they’re still eligible for coverage through their employer’s health insurance plan. These plans typically provide medical insurance as well as prescription drug coverage and other benefits. If you already have coverage through your employer, there is nothing you need to do when you turn 62. Your coverage will continue as normal, and you will keep receiving the same coverage you had before you turned 62.
— Retiree Health Plan
Even if you are retired, you might be eligible for a retiree health plan from your employer. Some employers offer group health plans to retirees, and this is a great option to bridge the gap for those who retire early until they become eligible for Medicare. Retiree health plans are especially common among workers who are covered by a union contract. If you have questions about this type of plan or how to sign up, you should contact your employer’s HR department. They can help you understand the different options that are available and get signed up for the right plan for you.
— COBRA Coverage
COBRA is a law that requires group health plans to extend coverage for a certain period of time after your employment ends. In most cases, employers with more than 20 employees are required to participate, and you must be allowed to extend coverage for up to 18 months. This is another way that you can bridge the gap from your retirement to the start of your Medicare benefits.
However, you should know a couple of things. First, you will likely be responsible for the entire monthly premium. Since your employer usually covers at least 50% of your premium, you can expect your insurance premium to be double or triple in some cases. Next, you might not have this option if you work for a small company with fewer than 20 employees. Thankfully, any money that you have already paid toward your annual deductible should remain the same.
— Government Healthcare Programs
The Affordable Care Act made it much easier to find and enroll in a health care plan, even if you are not eligible through an employer-sponsored plan. You can find health coverage through the online marketplace. Insurance companies will show you the plans that are available to you, and you can sign up for one of those until you are eligible for Medicare enrollment. The biggest drawback of this option is usually the cost. These plans are available through private insurance companies, and the cost is usually quite high. Head over to healthcare.gov to find the plans available in your area.
If your income is below the threshold set in your state, you could qualify for Medicaid coverage. Medicare and Medicaid are two different programs. Medicaid is a joint program between the federal government and each state. Most states allow participation in the Medicaid program if your household income is below $25,268. A few states have not expanded their Medicaid program to include low-income adults, but you still might qualify if you care for someone under 18 in your household. You should contact your state’s Medicaid office to learn more about the eligibility criteria in your state or to get signed up for coverage.
How Reaching Age 62 Can Affect Your Spouse’s Medicare Coverage
You should now know that you cannot get Medicare coverage at age 62 unless you qualify because of a disability. However, reaching age 62 can have an effect on your spouse’s Medicare coverage. Here is what you need to know about your spouse’s coverage.
First, remember that you must have paid Medicare taxes for ten years to qualify for premium-free Part A coverage. If you do not meet the work requirement, then you might pay as much as $500 per month for your Part A coverage. However, you can qualify for premium-free coverage based on the work history of your spouse once they reach 62.
Suppose you are 65 but do not qualify for premium-free Part A coverage. However, your spouse has enough work credits to qualify, but they are only 61 years old. As soon as your spouse reaches age 62, you can then qualify for premium-free Part A coverage based on their work record. Although your spouse cannot enroll in their own coverage yet, their age and work history can prevent you from paying a monthly premium for your Part A coverage. Although you will still pay a Part B premium, avoiding the Part A premium could lead to huge savings for you each month.
The Bottom Line
So, when can I get Medicare? You cannot get Medicare at age 62 unless you qualify because of a disability. Even if you are already retired, you cannot sign up for Medicare until you reach 65. If you already get benefits from the Social Security office, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare upon your 65th birthday. If you don’t receive Social Security benefits yet, you will need to sign up for Medicare. It is best to apply during your initial enrollment period. You can also sign up during the Medicare open enrollment period, but you might pay a late enrollment penalty in some cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the earliest age you can get Medicare?
In most cases, you can get Medicare as early as age 65. This is one of the basics of Medicare. However, there are a couple of exceptions that allow you to qualify for Medicare at a younger age. If you have been diagnosed with ESRD or ALS, you can qualify for Medicare before you reach 65. Likewise, if you have received SSDI benefits for the past 24 months, you can also qualify for Medicare. Outside of qualifying for Medicare due to a disability, you must be 65 to get Medicare.
How much does Medicare cost at age 62?
First, you cannot usually qualify for Medicare until you reach age 65. However, if you qualify due to a disability, the cost will depend on a couple of factors. You can qualify for premium-free Part A coverage if you have enough work credits. Part B includes a monthly premium, which is $164.90 in 2023. If your income is higher, your premium might increase. You can use Medicare’s premium calculator to see how much your premium will be. If you sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan or other private insurance, the cost will depend on your specific plan.
Does Medicare cover everything?
No, there are many items that Medicare does not cover. For example, Medicare does not provide dental or vision coverage. Original Medicare also does not provide prescription drug coverage, although you can choose to add a Part D drug plan to your coverage. Medicare also does not pay for long-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Despite these non-covered items, there are still many that Medicare does cover.
Can I get Medicare at age 62 if my spouse is already enrolled in Medicare coverage?
No, you cannot get Medicare at age 62 just because your spouse is already enrolled in coverage. However, turning 62 could have an effect on the cost of your spouse’s Medicare coverage. If your spouse is paying a premium for Part A coverage, they might become eligible for premium-free coverage when you turn 62. If you have enough work credits to qualify for premium-free Part A coverage, your spouse will no longer have to pay a premium for their Part A coverage. However, you will not be eligible to sign up for Medicare until you reach age 65.