Medicare is often discussed on the news, but very little time is spent explaining how precisely patients can qualify. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays or care in a skilled nursing facility. Medicare Part B covers outpatient medical care, such as doctor visits. In order to qualify for Medicare Part A and Part B, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident for at least 5 years.
In addition to this, you must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
- You are age 65 or older and are eligible for Social Security – You become eligible for Social Security at age 62. There is a possibility that you may be eligible for Social Security benefits at an earlier age because you have a disability pursuant to the Social Security guidelines. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically get Parts A and B when you become 65. If you are not already receiving Social Security benefits, however, you must sign up for Medicare. You can do sign up three months prior to your 65th birthday, but no later than three months after your birthday. If you sign up at a later date, you will pay a higher premium for your Part B benefit.
- You become permanently disabled and receive disability benefits for at least two years –You automatically get Parts A and B 24 months after Social Security has declared you disabled.
- You have end-stage Renal Disease – This means you have permanent kidney failure and require dialysis or a kidney transplant. You must apply for Medicare if you meet this criterion. Enrollment is not automatic.
- You have ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease) – You will automatically get Parts A and B the month your Social Security Disability benefits begin.