|Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, and your initial window to sign up spans seven months, starting three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ending three months after that month.|
It pays to enroll in Medicare on time if you're no longer covered by a group health plan through a job (either yours or your spouse's), because paying for private insurance out of pocket could be astronomical. And while Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services, does charge a premium, Part A, which covers hospital care, is generally premium free.
Enrolling in Medicare past your initial enrollment period could also result in lifelong penalties on your Part B premiums. But just because you're enrolling in Medicare doesn't mean you need to sign up for Social Security right away. And if you enroll in Medicare on time and start collecting Social Security at that point as well, you'll reduce a critical income stream for life.