Who is Eligible for Medicare?

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Your eligibility for Medicare is based on your age and your medical condition. If you're eligible, you can usually sign up for Medicare Part A -- hospital care and similar expenses -- without paying a premium, based on the years you or your spouse have been working and paying Medicare taxes. If you haven't put in enough work, the premium, at time of writing, was $407 a year. Part B, which covers doctor visits and other services, costs $104.90 a month, though some high-income individuals pay more.

On Basis of Age

  • To qualify for Medicare based on your age, you have to wait until the year you turn 65. Find the day before your 65th birthday: Medicare eligibility begins the first day of that month. Usually you have to be eligible for Social Security or railroad retirement benefits to qualify. If you're receiving Social Security, enrollment for Part A is automatic. Enrolling for Part A makes you eligible for Part B too, unless you opt out of paying the premium.

Because of Health

  • If you receive Social Security disability payments for two years, that qualifies you for Medicare. So does receiving railroad retirement benefits because of a disability. A disabled widow, widower or child of a disabled or retired worker can also qualify. For government employees. it takes 29 months of disability and the qualifying rules are slightly different. Anyone disabled by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis qualifies for Medicare after a month of receiving Social Security disability.

Checking Your Status

  • The simplest way to find out if you're eligible is through the Medicare website's online calculator. It will figure your eligibility based on factors such as your age and the number of years you worked. You can also use the calculator to determine how big any premiums you pay will be. You also can contact your state or local government which can provide information about other programs as well.

Affordable Care Act

  • Medicare eligibility for age or health is a federal rule, applicable whether you live in New York or California. The Affordable Care Act, however, has given states the option to expand Medicare to cover healthy, under-65 adults with income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. At time of writing, 28 states and the District of Columbia have exercised this option. You can find information about your state and the poverty qualification for Medicare on the Healthcare.gov website.

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