In general, it is a good idea to sign up for Medicare health insurance as soon as you meet the basic requirements. According to the federal government, most Medicare recipients are automatically enrolled when they first qualify. However, some people are not.
If you are one of the people who does not get enrolled in the Medicare program automatically, then you have the option to postpone your enrollment. However, if you do not have a valid reason for doing so, delaying enrollment in Medicare may not be a good idea, even if you end up saving some money in the short-run.
That is because those who enroll after their initial enrollment period has ended may have to pay a late enrollment fee when they finally do sign up. These fees come in the form of higher out-of-pocket medical expenses to delayed enrollment penalties.
The Medicare program has two open enrollment periods. You can sign up during either or make changes to your existing coverage. However, each period only allows you to sign up for certain parts.
The first period, from January 1st and March 31st, allows you to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare). The coverage you select will start on July 1st of that year regardless if you signed up in January, February, or March.
The second period, from October 15th and December 7th, lets you sign up for Part C and Part D.
Part C has the same coverage as Original Medicare, but private insurance companies manage your policy and coverage.
Part D is for coverage of prescription drugs. Coverage for these plans starts on January 1st of the upcoming year.