Medicare Enrollment Periods Explained!
There are five different enrollment periods for Medicare! It’s no wonder everybody gets confused! I will simplify it all for you here.
Initial Enrollment Period: There is a seven-mont Initial Enrollment Period, for people Turning 65 and enrolling in Medicare. It includes the three months before the month that you turn 65, your birthday month, and the three months afterwards. This applies to all forms of Medicare—Parts A (hospital), B (doctor and outpatient expenses), C (Medicare Advantage), and D (prescription drugs).
Medicare Supplement Enrollment: There is a separate six-month open enrollment period for Medicare Supplement policies (also called Medigap), which begins when you’ve turned 65 , or enrolled in Part B. During this period, insurers must sell you any Medicare Supplement policy they offer…no medical questions asked! They can’t charge you more because of your age or health condition. This guaranteed access is very important because if you miss this window and try to buy a policy later, insurers are not be obligated to sell you a policy. You may be turned down for coverage based on your health history or charge you more money.
General Enrollment: If you missed enrolling in Part A or B during the Initial Enrollment Period, there is also a General Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 31 of each year. Waiting until this period could mean lifetime premium surcharges for late Part B enrollment, which can end up costing you thousands of dollars. And your coverage won’t begin until July.
If you enroll in Part B during the General Enrollment Period, there is another period which starts April 1 and goes through June 30—during which you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan with or without Part D drug coverage. In most cases, coverage also will take effect July 1.
Part D drug coverage – If you don’t sign up for it when you first can, and later decide you want it, you will face potentially large premium surcharges if you were without coverage for 63 days or more.
Special Enrollment: There are lots of special conditions that can expand your penalty-free options for when you sign up for Medicare, such as employer coverage, or moving (for MA and Part D coverage).
Open Enrollment: If you already have Medicare, there is an Open Enrollment Period every year, when you can select a new Medicare Advantage or Drug Plans. You also have the option of moving back and forth between Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and Medicare Advantage. It runs from October 15 through December 7.
For those with Medicare Advantage plans, there is one more time period you need to be aware of. From January 1 through February 14, there is the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. During this time, you can move back to Original Medicare and also get a Part D plan if you need one..(if your Medicare Advantage plan included Part D coverage.)
It certainly is confusing, but a good insurance agent will help keep you informed, and walk you through the process!