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The Consequences of Missing Your Medicare Enrollment

Written by Jason Patterson

There are so many different enrollment periods that you have to remember when it comes to Medicare and it’s various parts. It’s difficult to keep all of them straight and not miss any of them. Mistakes happen, and it’s easy to get dates confused or simply forget, but there could be some serious consequences if you miss some of your Medicare enrollment dates.

Although there are certain enrollments and designated time periods for when it is best to sign up for Medicare, the truth is that no one can force you to enroll in this coverage. Missing Medicare Enrollment DeadlineHowever, for those who intend on using this program as their primary source of health care insurance, it is a good idea to have a clear understanding of what the preferred periods of enrollment are – as well as the consequences – and the potential penalties – for not signing up on time. To help you keep everything straight, we have outlined all of the dates and the consequences for miss those dates.

Enrolling Late in Medicare Part B Coverage

When it comes to enrolling in Medicare Part B coverage, there are two primary situations into which most people will fall. These enrollment deadlines will typically be the later of either:

  • The end of your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period. This period includes the months surrounding the month you turn 65 going three months before and after it.
  • The end of the 8-month Special Enrollment Period. Those who delay enrollment in Medicare Part B because they currently have health insurance coverage through an employer – or through a spouse’s employer – are allowed to enroll in Medicare Part B late, without a penalty, during a Special Enrollment Period.

Whichever of the final dates applies to you will be your deadline for enrolling in Medicare Part B coverage, after which, you can still enroll in Part B, however, there are two potential consequences that you could face. These may include the following:

  • You may be required to pay a late penalty as a part of your monthly Medicare Part B premium. This is not a one-time thing, but rather ongoing for all future years.
  • You may be able to only sign up during the General Enrollment Period. This time period runs from January 1st through March 31st each year. If you sign up during this time, your Medicare Part B coverage will not actually start until the following July 1st.

In some instances, there could also be an additional consequence. This could apply to those who have retired and continue to receive health benefits from their former employer. In certain cases, Medicare will oftentimes become the primary insurance coverage, meaning that Medicare will pay the medical bills first.

Therefore, if these individuals do not enroll in Medicare as soon as they can, their retiree health insurance coverage may not pay for certain medical services that they have received – leaving the individuals to pay Medicare’s portion of the bill themselves.

While this is not always the case, if you are in a situation where you have a retiree health insurance plan from a former employer, it is worth looking into, as you may be left with some hefty expenses.

For many people, though, going without any coverage at all is the worst of the consequences, as this could potentially end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars – or more – in out of pocket expenses should they require a long-term (or even a short-term) hospital stay or surgery.

Missing the Deadline for Medicare Part A Coverage

For most people, enrollment in Medicare Part A coverage will be automatic. So, if you have paid your taxes into the Medicare system, when you turn 65, it is likely that you will automatically qualify. You also won’t need to pay any premiums for this part of Medicare.

However, there are some individuals who will be required to pay a premium for Medicare Part A – and who will need to actually enroll. If you fall into this category and you miss your enrollment deadline, there could be a penalty. The amount of the penalty is roughly an extra 10 percent on your premiums for every full 12-month period that has elapsed between the end of your Initial Enrollment Period and the end of the General Enrollment Period in which you have finally signed up.

The good news is that with Medicare Part A, the penalty does not last forever like the penalty for Medicare Part B does. In the case of Part A, the penalty will only go on for double the length of time that you delayed signing up. Therefore, if you waited two years, then you would be required to pay a penalty for four years.

In any case, it is important to be aware of when you should enroll in Medicare’s coverages – and then to follow through. Even if you have other health care coverage, it may be well worth it to have both for a period of time rather than to pay an ongoing premium penalty into the future.

Missing Medigap Open Enrollment

There is no “penalty” or “fee” for missing the open enrollment window, but it could end up costing your hundreds or thousands of dollars in premium charges.

These Medigap policies were created to fill in some of the coverage gaps that are left behind by Medicare Parts A and B. They are sold by private insurance companies and are a great way to offset the rising costs of medical expenses. Of the ten plans sold right now, Medicare Supplement Plan F offers the best coverage.

During your open enrollment period, if you apply for a Medicare supplemental insurance policy, the insurance companies do not have the power nor the ability to deny any application for any plan. OEP gives you protection from pre-existing health conditions. Also, you can save yourself from being charged more for health issues if you enroll during this seven-month span.

If you have any questions about your Medicare coverage, enrollment dates, penalties, or a Medigap policy, you can reach out to us! We can provide any information you need along with gather you quotes to make sure you have the best premium for your coverage. We are dedicated to helping you get the best Medicare coverage and supplemental coverage. Your health care is one of the most important factors in your life, it’s there to give you the medical attention you need without breaking your bank. Missing any of the enrollment periods we mentioned could cost you dearly.

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Jason Patterson has been in the insurance industry for over fifteen years. Starting in 2005, he became one of the first agents to sell medicare supplements online. From that small start, he grew an agency that helped thousands of people with their insurance needs in all fifty states.

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