Enrollment periods for Medicare
Some individuals aren’t automatically signed up for Part A & Part B. If you’re eligible for Part A, free of charge, you can sign up once your Initial Enrollment Period starts. Enrolling in Part B however, can only be done during certain enrollment periods.
Keep in mind, in most situations, if you do not enroll for Part A and Part B when you’re first eligible, you will more than likely have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have the coverage.
Initial Enrollment Period
You can first sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the 7 month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, including the month you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turned 65.
If you enroll in Part A and/or Part B during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, in most situations, you coverage will start the first day of your birthday month. Keep in mind, if your birthday is on the first day of the month, your coverage will begin on the first day of the prior month. Here’s an example: Joe turns 65 on April 1st. His Part A and Part B will have an effective date of March 1st.
If you happen to enroll in Part A and/or Part B during the month you turn 65 or during the last 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, your Medicare coverage start date will likely be delayed.
General Enrollment Period
If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period into Medicare Part A and/or Part B you can sign up during a General Enrollment Period. This period is from January 1 – March 31 of each year. If you sign up during this time, your coverage will not start until July 1 of that year. You might also have to pay a higher Part A and/or Part B premium for late enrollment.
Special Enrollment Period
If you (or your spouse) happen to still be working, you might have a chance to sign up for Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. If you didn’t enroll for Part B (or Part A if you buy to purchase it) when you were first eligible because you were covered under an employer health plan based on current employment (yours or a spouse’s) you can sign up for Part A and or B:
- Anytime you’re still covered by the employer health plan
- During the 8-month period that starts the month after the employment ends or the coverage ends, whichever happened first
Normally, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a Special Enrollment Period.
Retiree health plans and COBRA coverage are not considered coverage based on current employment. That means you aren’t eligible for a Special Enrollment Period when that coverage ends. To avoid paying a higher monthly premium for your Part A and/or Part B, make sure you enroll for Medicare when you’re first eligible.
Do you have more questions about enrollment in Medicare? A Medicare Mentor can help!
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