16 Oct 2017
Not everyone has to remember to enroll in Medicare. If you are already collecting Social Security, you’ll get Medicare Parts A and B automatically. In some cases, you might not have to enroll in Part B. For example, if you’re covered by an employer plan, you may wish to decline it until you retire. Always check with your human resources department to find out if they need you to enroll in Part B; if it’s not necessary while you’re still employed, send the Medicare card back to the Social Security office and they’ll issue a new one indicating you’re enrolled only in Part A. You won’t be billed for Part B premiums until you let them know your status has changed.
These items need some action on your part:
Initial Enrollment Period
For those turning 65, there is a seven-month window around your 65th birthday – in the months before and after – in which you can sign up for Medicare. Part A is free as long as you have contributed into the system. Part B involves premiums but is not always necessary. If you have coverage that doesn’t require you to have Part B, you can sign up for it later. Again, take advice on this from HR or your union before you opt out of Part B.
From October 15 to December 7 each year, you can change health plans: move from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan (MAP), move from a MAP back to Original Medicare, or change from one MAP to another. If you go back to Original Medicare, you may want to pick up (or change) a Part D prescription drug plan and enroll in supplemental coverage (Medigap).
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 also enroll between January 1 and March 31. Coverage will begin July 1, so you will be uninsured until then.
Special Enrollment Period
There are several circumstances, such as when you permanently change your home address or if you choose to change employer/union coverage, under which you can enroll in Medicare during Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). For a complete list of the 18 Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs), go to www.medicareinteractive.org/pdf/SEP-Chart.pdf
Thanks to: Seniors Speaking Out (WSOS), a project of the Westchester Library System. firstname.lastname@example.org or www.westchesterlibraries.org/westchester-seniors-out-speaking