Medicare Enrollment Deadlines You Shouldn’t Miss

Most people become eligible for Medicare during the months surrounding their 65th birthday. It’s important to remember your initial enrollment period because if you do not sign up for Medicare during this time, you could be charged a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. We’ve put together a list of Medicare enrollment deadlines you shouldn’t miss!

Original Medicare Part A & Part B

Individuals receiving Social Security benefits may be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Part A & Part B. and coverage will begin the month they turn 65. However, those who haven’t filed for Social Security will need to take action to sign up for Medicare. Your cover can begin as early as the first day of the month you turn 65, and the first day of the prior month if you birthday falls on the first of the month. Remember, if you are not receiving Social Security benefits – you can first sign up for Medicare Part A hospital insurance and Medicare Part B medical insurance during the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65, and three months after you turn 65.

If you do not enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period around your 65th birthday, you can sign up during the general enrollment period between January 1st and March 31st of each year for coverage that will begin July 1st. However, you could be charged a late enrollment penalty when your benefit starts. Monthly Part B premiums increase by 10% for each 12-month period you delay signing up for Medicare after becoming eligible for benefits.

If you or your spouse are still working after age 65, and the employer provides group health insurance, you need to sign up for Medicare within eight months of leaving the job or the coverage ending to avoid the penalty. Retiree health insurance and COBRA coverage are not forms of health insurance that allow you to avoid Medicare’s late enrollment penalty.

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have the same initial enrollment period around your 65th birthday, but the penalty is different. The late enrollment penalty is applied if you go 63 days or more without credible prescription drug coverage after becoming eligible for Medicare. The penalty is calculated by multiplying 1% of the “national base beneficiary premium” ($35.02 in 2018) by the number of months you didn’t have coverage and rounding to the nearest 10 cents. The amount is added to your Medicare Part D plan you select each year. And as the national base beneficiary premium increases, so does your penalty.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans

Medicare Supplement insurance plans can be used to help cover the gaps left behind by Original Medicare. This is why you may have heard them referred to as “Medigap” policies. The initial enrollment period is different than the other parts of Medicare. Medicare Supplement enrollment periods begin when you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B (a six month window). During this initial enrollment period, private health insurance companies are required by the government to sell beneficiaries a plan regardless of their health condition.

After this enrollment period, insurance companies are allowed to use medical underwriting to decide how much to charge for the policy and can even reject individuals they don’t want to cover. If you miss the initial enrollment period for Medicare Supplement insurance plans, you are not longer guaranteed the ability to buy a plan or could be charged more if you have any health conditions. You might not be able to switch to a new plan later, so choose carefully during the initial enrollment period.

If you have any other questions regarding the enrollment deadlines, or if you’re currently in during 65 – contact a licensed insurance agent at Medicare Pathways to help guide you down the path of Medicare! Call us at 866-466-9118 to learn more now.