Knowing when you should enroll in Medicare can be confusing for some people. Navigating through the federal government's healthcare system is overwhelming and daunting. However, if you research well, you can understand when and how you should enroll in Medicare. The enrollment period refers to the timeframe given to eligible individuals to enroll in a Medicare plan. Failure to enroll in a Medicare plan at the right time can delay coverage or, worse, attract penalties. Here are 6 Medicare enrollment periods you should know about:
The initial enrollment period lasts 7 months. The enrollment period begins 3 months before you turn 65, includes your birth month, and extends 3 months after that. You can automatically enroll in Medicare Part A and B during this period if you are already receiving Social Security benefits. Also, you can enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) and Medicare Advantage plan (Part C). If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you can be eligible to enroll in Medicare earlier.
If you signed up for a Medicare plan which does not meet all your needs, you could change your coverage to help with additional costs. To supplement your initial Medicare coverage, you should do it during the 6-month enrollment period, which starts the 1st day of the month you turn 65. Remember, to supplement your original Medicare coverage; you must have signed up for Medicare Part B. To avoid incurring extra medical costs, take note to supplement your medical coverage during the supplement open enrollment period.
You are eligible to sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B from January 1st to March 31st each year. However, you are eligible to enroll if:
After enrolling, your Medicare coverage will start on July 1stand you might incur some penalties.
The annual enrollment period refers to a set period when people can enroll in a Medicare plan. The annual enrollment period runs from October 15th to December 7th. Here are some of the things you can accomplish during this enrollment period:
Remember, if you make any changes, your new coverage will become effective on January 1st. If you are happy with your current coverage and did not make any changes, your Medicare plan automatically renews on January 1st.
During this enrollment period, Medicare Advantage plan members can change plans. The enrollment period runs from January 1st to March 31st. Therefore, whether you recently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or have had the coverage for years, you can use this enrollment period to confirm or change your insurance plan choice. It is crucial to consider your experiences when using the plan and review the plan benefits to make the right choice. You can choose a Medicare Advantage plan with or without prescription drug coverage or opt for the Original Medicare. If you made any changes, they would take effect on the 1st day of the next month (i.e., the 1st of the month following the month you made changes).
A SEP refers to a period when you can join, drop or switch prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plans. You need a qualifying life event like getting married, losing other health coverage, or moving to a new area to qualify for a special enrollment period. Here are some qualifying life events that might require you to change your coverage:
Upon qualifying, you have up to 60 days to enroll in a plan. If you fail to enroll during the 60 days, you will have to wait for the next special enrollment period.
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