Medicare insurance is provided as part of Social Security. A person is generally eligible to enroll in Medicare insurance if he/she is of 65 years or older. Therefore a person who takes early retirement will generally have to wait until the age of 65 to get Medicare. A person can opt to enroll in Medicare, either by calling the Social Security toll-free number and requesting enrollment, or by following through with contact information and instructions on the Social Security website. A person may check his/her eligibility for Medicare on the Medicare website
It is however important to understand that a person cannot apply for Medicare online.
In general, a person is eligible for Medicare when he/she turns 65. This is true even if the person is not eligible for Social Security for some reason. The vice versa may also occur wherein a person may be eligible for Social Security but not for Medicare. This can for instance occur if a person takes early retirement and begins receiving Social Security before age 65. In such cases, the person is probably not eligible for Medicare until he/she turn 65. In cases like these, it is recommended to have health insurance coverage until the person turns 65. In contrast, a person who works full time past age 65 and is covered by a qualified employer or union health plan may not need to enroll in Medicare until actual retirement.
A person can therefore apply for Social Security at 65 regardless of his/her work status. When a person who applies for Social Security he/she is automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (which is free). However, a person whose work health plan provides for major medical and prescription drug coverage, may not need the coverage through Medicare until retirement.
It is important to remember that, irrespective of the age at which a person retires, he/she has only a 63 day window to apply for Medicare. Applications submitted after this time frame will attract a penalty on the premiums.