Medicare, Online Services

White House Conference on Aging: What You Need to Know First About Enrolling in Medicare

July 13, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 6, 2023

SSA-and-CMS-Accomplishments-Medicare-IEP-3A healthy life is a good life. The Medicare benefits you’ve earned ensure that you can receive the care you need, when you need it.

And, when it comes to Medicare benefits, the most important thing to remember is to apply for them at age 65.

On your behalf, advocacy groups asked us to place a greater emphasis on information about enrolling in Medicare at age 65, and specifically, about the potential problems that arise if you don’t.

In the past few months, in conjunction with the White House Conference on Aging, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Social Security Administration have strengthened many of our communications products to ensure that all people nearing age 65 hear the following message:

Three months before your 65th birthday, you should apply for Medicare benefits. At that time, you’ll be asked to elect if you also want Medicare Part B that helps pay for doctors’ services and many other medical services and supplies that hospital insurance doesn’t cover. If you don’t sign up at age 65, and you then decide to enroll later, you may pay a lifetime late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in medical insurance coverage. There are exceptions, but play it safe, and ask your Medicare or Social Security representative about your personal situation.

To make this message clear, our two agencies have already:

In the next few months, CMS will update their website and the Medicare initial enrollment period package; revise more Medicare publications; and add online resources for people who are still working.

Visit to find out more about enrolling in Medicare. And, remember to apply online for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday!

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Billie J.

    what is the rule on dropping part b when becoming reemployed?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Billie. If you’re over age 65, and covered under a Group health plan based on current employment, you may be eligible to sign up for Medicare (Part A & B) during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). We always suggest that individuals speak to their personnel office, health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future.

      For specific questions about your case, call 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and ask a representative to assist you, or you can contact your local office .

  2. Eileen M.

    I am currently covered by an Aetna Medicare plan. I have notified them that I no longer wish to continue with this plan and will be covered by Original Medicare. I understand that Aetna receives a payment for my Medicare coverage and just want to be assured that they no longer receive payment. Do I need to do anything further?

    Thank you for your attention to this message.

    Eileen Miller

    Medicare # 6QM9-JV0-NR21

    • Ray F.

      Hello Eileen. Each year, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage for the following year. There are 2 separate enrollment periods each year. Please visit for complete information. Thanks!

  3. Mike D.

    Do I have to apply to medicare part A in order to collect social security??? I will be 66 at the end of December

  4. CAROL J.

    My husband will turn 65 on Sept 23 2018. He is already collecting Social Security benefits. He is on my health care plan where I work. Does he have to sign up for plan B along with medicare? We received his medicare card and have to make a decision soon wether to sign up for plan B or not. No one seems to be able to answer this question for me.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for using our blog to contact us, Carol! We just want to clarify and make sure that everybody understands that a beneficiary may refuse Medicare Part B, during his or her Initial Enrollment Period, if that beneficiary or the spouse, actively works and has coverage under a group health plan based on that employment, then he or she doesn’t need Medicare part B until the work activity ends or that health care coverage is dropped. However, we always suggest that individuals speak to their personnel office, health benefits advisor, or health plan to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future. To learn more about the Medicare enrollment periods visit
      If you want to delay your Part B coverage, you must refuse Part B before your Medicare coverage has started. You have two options for refusing Part B:
      1. Follow the instructions that come with the card and send the card back. If you keep the card, you are keeping Part B and will pay Part B premiums.
      2. Call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or contact your local Social Security office directly.

  5. Juan b.

    hello. I am a retired Army First Sergeant.. The family and I have full military health benefits and use Tricare prime. I understand that I will soon have to go on medicare. will Still continue to pay Tricare prime for the family or does Tricare for life take care of them also

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your service, 1SG Buentello. If you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday. If you already receive Social Security benefits, you will be automatically enrolled in both Part A and Part B, and we will automatically deduct the Part B premium from your monthly payments.
      Current law requires TRICARE beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A to enroll in Medicare Part B to retain their TRICARE benefits. You will need to contact TRICARE, the Department of Defense or a military health benefits advisor for more information on how your TRICARE benefits will be affected.
      We hope this information helps!

  6. Luz d.

    Hi I have cdphp with Medicaid and received in the mail information about medicare part a and b I’m confused is it mandatory to switch or should I stay with the insurance I have already and happy with I see several doctors in a month

  7. joe

    This is horrible i don’t go to doctors ever and will not ever. I can not afford to pay. Will they make me homeless by taking away my SS it’s my only income!!!

  8. Connie B.

    Is signing up for Part A requirement at age 65 even though I am still working and have credible insurance coverage?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Connie. If you are actively working and covered under your employer’s group health insurance program, you can delay enrollment into Medicare Part B until you stop working or the health coverage is dropped (whichever is first). Individuals within three months of age 65 or older and not ready to start their monthly cash benefits can use our online retirement application to sign up for Medicare ONLY and apply for their retirement benefits at a later date. We suggest that individuals speak to their health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them.
      To learn more about the Medicare program and the enrollment periods visit, and read our publication “Apply Online for Medicare – Even If You Are Not Ready to Retire” . We hope this information helps!

  9. Rodney q.

    I have Part A and Part B. How do I sign for medicarePart D and get a drug prescription plan??? What us an advantage plan?.Can I keep my same doctor?

  10. Gizella

    I am returning from the UK after being there 30 years and covered under their nationa healthcare system.
    I am over 65 and have Part A medicare. Can’t get B
    UK insurance not creditable for SEP.
    Can I give back A so I can get an ACA policy til July18
    when medicare und OEP would kick in?
    Or where/how can I get coverage
    Need answer asap pls. my UK coverage will term June30th. What should I do? Thank you for quick response.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Gizella. Our policy requires a personal interview be conducted with everyone who wants to terminate their Medicare benefits. Generally, refusing or opting out of Medicare when entitled, could result in a series of penalties if enrolled at a later date. Our field office representatives will need to speak to you personally before we terminate your Medicare benefits to be sure that you fully understand the consequences of doing so. If you’ve already had this personal interview, please continue working with your local Social Security office, or call us at our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to keep track of the status of your request. Thanks.

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