MEDICARE ENROLLMENT PERIODS
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When to Enroll
Part B Enrollment Dates
What Part B covers
General Enrollment Questions
Medicare Enrollment Periods
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): 7 months
The 7-month period in which you are eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A (Hospital insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical insurance) begins three months prior to your 65th birthday, includes your birth month, and extends until three months after you turn 65. Prescription drug coverage is not included in this Original Medicare program.
If you do not have “creditable” prescription drug coverage through an employer plan, union, or other provider whose coverage is equivalent to or better than a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan, you can purchase a Part D plan through a private insurer. You can also choose to receive your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) that is purchased through a private insurer. Some Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, as well as some other benefits, such as dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plan benefits vary by plan.
You may be charged a Part B or Part D Late Enrollment Penalty if you do not sign up for these during your Initial Enrollment period and choose to enroll in them later.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period:
January 1 – March 31st (NEW!)
New Enrollment Periods
2019 will mark the return of an Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) which provides additional opportunities to change your Medicare Advantage plan outside the Annual Election/Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7). The annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP), which runs from January 1 to March 31 allows anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan on January 1 the opportunity to change plans.
There is also an individualized Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period that’s limited to new Medicare beneficiaries with both Medicare Part A and B. These individuals have a three-month MA OEP to switch plans. Both the individual and the annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allow Medicare beneficiaries already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan a one-time election or opportunity to either:
- Switch to a different MA plan, OR
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare and a standalone Part D plan.
If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can make one change to a different plan or switch back to Original Medicare (and join a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan) once during this time. Any changes you make will be effective the first of the month after the plan gets your request.
Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP):
January 1 – March 31
During this time, those who did not sign up for Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B during their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) can sign up for it now. (Coverage begins July 1.) Enrollees in Medicare Part B during GEP are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage. (See SEP: April 1-June 30, below)
Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Part B GEP enrollees:
April 1 – June 30
During this time, those who enrolled in Medicare Part B during GEP may make one election to join a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan. These beneficiaries (who were previously not eligible to enroll in a Part C Medicare Advantage plan because they did not have the required Part B coverage) may also use this SEP to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage. (MA-PD)
Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP):
October 15 – December 7
During this time, all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year. You may:
• Change from Original Medicare to an Medicare Advantage plan
• Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare
• Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan
• Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that does not offer prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage
• Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that does not offer prescription drug coverage
• Join a Medicare Prescription Drug plan
• Drop your Medicare Prescription Drug coverage
• Switch from a Medicare Prescription Drug plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug plan.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you did not sign up for Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period – or if you’ve recently moved out of your plan’s coverage area, lost insurance coverage through an employer plan, have a severe or disabling condition, qualify for Extra Help, or numerous other “special” circumstances – you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This would allow you to make a change in your Medicare coverage. Rules about when you can make a change, and the type of changes you can make, are different for each SEP. Click here to view a SEP chart.
Click on this link to View a Special Enrollment Chart form the NCOA.
When to buy a Medicare Supplement policy
The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which is the six-month period that begins on the first day of the month in which you turn 65 or older and have enrolled in Part B. (Some state have additional Open Enrollment Periods.) After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy. If you are able to buy one, it may cost more.
If you delay in Part B because you have group health coverage based on you (or your spouse's) current employment, you Medigap Open Enrollment Period won't start until you sign up for Part B.
If need have questions about enrollment please give us a call. We're here to help.
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