If you are becoming eligible for Medicare, you need to know what Medicare plans would fit your coverage and budget needs best. Understanding the differences between each plan when it comes to cost and coverage is crucial in determining what you should enroll in.
You should also be fully aware of the Medicare enrollment periods so you can enroll during the right time and avoid paying late enrollment penalties, which are added onto your monthly premiums and can be permanent.
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before an individual’s 65th birthday. During this time, a packet will be mailed which explains Medicare and details enrollment. Many individuals will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, or at least in Plan A.
During the Initial Enrollment Period, beneficiaries will not have to pay any late fees to enroll in their plan of choice. Waiting to enroll past the Initial Enrollment Period could be more expensive.
Once you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you will have a six-month period where you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan if need be. This is known as the Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This is a one-time enrollment period where you will be guaranteed to enroll in a supplement plan; you will not be denied coverage or charged more in premiums because of your health. However, if you miss enrollment during this period, then insurers have every right to deny you coverage or charge you more for premiums.
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Special Enrollment Periods
The Special Enrollment Period is limited to only those who qualify for it. To qualify, you must have experienced special circumstances, such as moving outside your plan’s service area and needing new coverage. Or, you delayed your Medicare enrollment because you were already covered by another health insurance plan (such as employer coverage) but now need to enroll in Medicare.
If you’re wondering whether or not you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, we’re here to answer your questions.
General Enrollment Period
The General Enrollment Period begins on January 1 and ends on March 31. If you happen to miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can use this period to enroll in Original Medicare. Your coverage will then begin on July 1.
Annual Enrollment Period
The Annual Enrollment Period begins on October 15 and ends December 7. During this period, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan or vice versa. If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will have the option to switch to a new Advantage Plan.
You can also use this period to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan, drop Part D, or switch to another Part D plan.
Once you have enrolled or made your changes in the Annual Enrollment Period, your coverage will begin on January 1.
Late Enrollment Penalties
If you delay your enrollment in Medicare, you will most likely face late enrollment penalties.
• Part A: Most beneficiaries qualify for premium-free Part A, but if you do not and miss your enrollment, you will pay an additional 10% of your premium for double the amount of years you did not enroll. For example, if you were eligible for Part A but did not enroll for a total of 5 years, you would pay the late enrollment penalty on top of your premium for a total of 10 years.
• Part B: The Part B late enrollment penalty is an extra 10% of your premium for every 12 months you did not enroll in Part B. This is a permanent penalty that is tacked on to your premium each month.
• Part D: The Part D late enrollment penalty is an extra 1% of your premium. Just like Part B, this is a permanent penalty.
Our professionals are available to walk you through the Medicare enrollment process. You can give us a call today at 402-740-5505.