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Medicare Enrollment Periods

If you are thinking of signing up for Medicare part B or are about to become eligible you have some decisions to make. Being proactive is essential in this period because dragging your feet and not making a decision soon enough may result in a life long penalty that you must pay every month.

When you decide what parts of medicare you need to enroll in, you need to know when you are able to enroll and later what Medicare Enrollment Periods you could switch plans as your needs change.

Medicare Enrollment Periods

When is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period?

One of the first Medicare Enrollment Periods is your initial enrollment period is 7 months long. It starts on the first day of the month 3 months prior to your 65th birthday. It ends the last day of the month 3 months after your 65th birthday.

There is one exception: if your birthday is on the first of the month. If so everything is moved forward by a month. For example: 10/1 birthday means your enrollment period begins 6/1 and ends 12/31

During your initial enrollment period, you can enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and B), Medicare Advantage plan, or Medicare Part D.

When is Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment?

Once you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and B, another Medicare Enrollment Plan opens up. There is a six-month open enrollment period for Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plans. This window begins with your Part B effective date and is a one-time election period.

I missed my Medicare enrollment period

If you miss your initial enrollment period, there are a few penalties you’ll face. However, these only apply if you do not have any other coverage, such as employer coverage. 

The penalties are as follows: 

  • If you do not enroll in Part B during initial enrollment, you’ll pay a late enrollment penalty. The penalty is an extra 10% of your premium for every 12-month period you should have had Part B. That 10% is tacked on each month for as long as you have coverage.
  • If you don’t have Part D coverage and miss your enrollment period, you’ll pay a late enrollment penalty. The penalty is an extra 1% of your premium for as long as you have coverage. 
  • Should you not qualify for free Part A coverage because you didn’t work long enough and you miss your enrollment period, you’ll pay an extra 10% of your premium for twice the number of years you didn’t have coverage.

What if I have employer coverage?

Many people work beyond age 65 and would like to continue their employer coverage instead of signing up for Medicare. This is fine and you will not be penalized. When you do retire, you will be able to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. 

This enrollment period is eight months long that begins either the month you or your spouse quits working or the month your group coverage ends, whichever comes first.

What is a Medicare Special Enrollment Period?

Some people are able to enroll during a special enrollment period. 

As discussed above, if you work beyond age 65 and have employer-provided health coverage that you would like to continue instead of Medicare, you are allowed to delay enrollment without penalty. 

Another example would be if you move outside of a plan’s service area. This would trigger a two-month enrollment period in which you could switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan. You could also return to Original Medicare without penalty. Sometimes, you can also enroll into Medigap.

There are other unique situations in which you may also be eligible for a special enrollment period. You are welcome to contact us to learn what options are available for you.

When can I enroll in Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D?

The annual enrollment period for Medicare Part C and D begins October 15 and December 7 each year. 

If you miss this period, you can join during the next year’s annual enrollment period. 

During annual enrollment, you can switch to Medicare Advantage from Original Medicare. You can also switch Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans.

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