Initial Enrollment Period

medicare-logoFor those turning 65, there is a seven-month time frame around your 65th birthday – in the months before and after – in which you can sign up for Medicare. Unless you choose otherwise, Social Security will enroll you in “Original” Medicare (Parts A and B). Since Part B requires a monthly premium, enrollment is optional so you must choose to enroll. And it’s generally a very good idea to do so. Keep in mind that if you wait to enroll in Part B, there is a 10% penalty added to the premium for each full year you delay. If you want a Medicare Advantage Plan, sign up for Medicare first, and when you get your number, call the Plan itself to enroll.

Open Enrollment

From October 15 to December 7 each year, you can change health plans: move from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, move from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare, or change Medicare Advantage plans. Automatic Enrollment People who are already receiving Social Security retirement benefits are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. If you don’t want Part B, you will have to decline it and send the form back to Social Security.

General Enrollment Period

If you do not sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period (the seven months around your 65th birthday), you may only enroll between January 1 and March 31. Coverage will begin July 1, so you will be uninsured until then.

Special Enrollment Period

For people who decline Part B because they or their spouse are still working and covered under an employer’s group health insurance plan, there is a Special Enrollment Period when they no longer have this coverage.

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