For disabled individuals and those over the age of 65, Medicare provides significant benefits for hospitalization and other medical expenses. Medicare coverage is available to most individuals without any required monthly premiums; determining who qualifies for Medicare insurance is a simple process in most cases. Generally, the applicant must meet any one of several criteria in order to qualify for no-cost Medicare coverage. Those who do not qualify under these criteria can still purchase insurance through the Medicare program in order to defray catastrophic and routine medical expenses.
Individuals over 65 years of age who qualify for and are currently receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits are automatically qualified and enrolled in the program. Some current and former spouses of qualifying individuals are also qualified to receive Medicare insurance. Government employees whose portions of Social Security and Medicare payments were made by their employer usually qualify for Medicare as well. A disabled individual under 65 who qualifies for Social Security or Railroad Retirement disability payments will also be eligible to enroll in Medicare after 24 months of continuous Social Security benefits. Lastly, individuals under the age of 65 who have acute, permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or kidney replacement are qualified to enroll in Medicare if they meet the other requirements for eligibility; spouses and dependents of qualified individuals can also enroll if they suffer from this particular ailment.
An individual who qualifies for Medicare may still have to pay a portion of the monthly premiums if he or she did not complete 40 quarters of creditable employment during which the employer made regular payments into the Medicare system on behalf of the employee. In order to access the Medicare health insurance benefits that the individual has earned, it is usually advisable to enroll in Medicare at least three months prior to the 65th birthday. This will allow time for paperwork and administration of the Medicare policy and ensure that benefits begin promptly when they are needed. For further questions regarding who qualifies for Medicare, contact the local Social Security office in your area.