You have a few opportunities to enroll in Medicare, some better than others. What are your options? How can you plan? Let’s find out.
Your Initial Enrollment Period
The best time to enroll in Medicare is when you first become eligible for it. This is called your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). You can start your official enrollment three months before your 65th birthday. Your IEP will then end three months after, for a total seven-month period (including your birthday month).
If you are retired at the start of your IEP, congratulations—you should be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B)! If not, you can easily do so by contacting your local Social Security office.
For other plans like Medicare Advantage, Part D, or supplements, you will have to find your provider and enroll. There is no automatic enrollment option. Be sure to compare available plans in your area to find the best one to suit your health and budget needs!
The General Enrollment Period
If you miss your IEP, what can you do? To enroll in Original Medicare, you can use the General Enrollment Period (GEP), which takes place annually from January 1st through March 31st.
You can only use the GEP to enroll in Original Medicare, not any other coverage options. There is one major factor that puts the GEP well below the other enrollment periods—late penalties. For every year you don’t enroll in Medicare while eligible, you’ll have to pay an extra 10% of your premium(s)…
Special Enrollment Periods
…Unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Not everyone wants to enroll in Medicare right at age 65, in most cases, because they are still receiving employee group health insurance.
If you are still receiving health insurance through an employer when you turn 65, you are not subject to late fees. Instead, when your group health plan ends, you’ll have 6 months to enroll in Medicare. If you miss this window, then you will start to accrue late penalties.
The Annual Enrollment Period
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) takes place from October 15th through December 7th. Unlike the other enrollment periods, this one isn’t about getting you enrolled in Original Medicare for the first time. You can only use the AEP if you already have Original Medicare.
So, what can you do? You can:
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (and vice versa)
- Add Part D to your Original Medicare plan
- Unenroll in Part D
- Change Part D plans and/or providers
- Change Medicare Advantage plans and/or providers
The AEP is your best opportunity to make sure you have the best possible Medicare coverage. If you have Medicare, make sure to use this opportunity to compare plans in your area!
Your Enrollment Guide—Call Senior Health Solutions
Senior Health Solutions will walk you through every step of enrollment and beyond. To start your Medicare journey, call us at (636) 244-4415.