Over 10,000 people will enroll in Medicare every day over the next 10 years.

Are you one of them? Or do you know someone who is nearing this rite of passage?

It’s not as complicated as it may seem. Explore 7 common questions (and answers) about how to get started with Medicare.

1. How do I enroll in Medicare? Is it automatic when I turn 65?

To enroll in Medicare, most people need to contact Social Security directly. Do this before your 65th birthday to avoid a lapse in health coverage.

Some people—including early retirees receiving Social Security and those with Social Security disability or Railroad Retirement benefits―are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they become eligible.

You can enroll online, at your local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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If Robert Bowman hadn’t casually mentioned his upcoming 65th birthday to a friend, he might have missed his window to sign up for Medicare.

“He said you better sign up now because there’s a penalty for signing up late. I didn’t know that,” says Bowman, a 65-year-old former tow truck driver who lives in Torrance.

Every day, 10,000 baby boomers — people age 51 to 69 — turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. According to a recent survey by the Medicare Rights Center in New York, many are unclear about whether and when to sign up for Part B, which covers outpatient medical care, including most doctor visits.

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