For those who are preparing to enroll in Medicare, there are some important deadlines and enrollment periods to be aware of. By enrolling or not enrolling within certain time frames, you can run the risk of being slapped with various penalties if due dates are missed. Yet, when signing up for this essential health care coverage, it is also important that you coordinate your enrollment with when it is a good time for you and your specific health care needs. There are several different factors or situations that could impact when you should apply. You can be a frustrating and confusing process trying to determine when to enroll, but it’s vital that you pick the perfect time.
By finding that fine line, you can not only obtain the right type of coverage for your needs, but you can also potentially save a great deal of money, not just for the immediate term, but also for the future years to come.
What is Your Initial Enrollment Period and Why Does It Matter?
Your initial enrollment period, or IEP, is the earliest time that you are entitled to sign up for Medicare. This period of time generally will occur around the time that you reach age 65. However, there are some situations where a person is eligible for Medicare prior to that age due to a qualifying disability.
The IEP begins three months prior to turning 65, your birthday month, and the three following months; this gives you seven months to get enrolled. In order to avoid having to pay any late enrollment penalties, it is important to sign up for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B during this period of time.
What Are Medicare Special Enrollment Periods?
There are certain cases where a person may be eligible to sign up for his or her Medicare during a special enrollment period. One reason for this is because they are still working past age 65 and they continue to have employer sponsored health insurance coverage. If this is the case, you are allowed to postpone signing up for Medicare Part B – as well as the monthly premium payment that it requires – without being subject to a late enrollment penalty in the future when you do end up enrolling.
However, many people will still go ahead and move forward with obtaining Medicare Part A. One reason for this is because in most instances, Medicare Part A does not require a premium – therefore, it makes sense to go ahead and obtain this coverage.
Yet another advantage of obtaining Medicare Part A during your initial enrollment period is to ensure that an official at the Social Security Administration enters into your record that you are delaying Part B coverage on the basis of current employment. This is good to have on your record just in case any discrepancy arises at a later date.
What Can Affect Your Medicare Enrollment Decision?
The timing of your Medicare enrollment is important – and in addition to having employer sponsored health insurance coverage, there are several other criteria that can also have an effect on when you should move forward – or not – with your Medicare enrollment.
Some other common factors can include:
- You have group health insurance coverage through your spouse’s employer. If you have health insurance through your spouse’s employer, the you take Part B if there are less than 20 employees and Medicare is the primary insurer, or if you want to drop this group coverage and go full time with your Medicare plan instead. If you opt to stay on your spouse’s group health insurance plan, you can delay your Part B enrollment without a penalty and sign up at a later date through a special enrollment period.
- You have COBRA coverage. For those who have health insurance through COBRA, it is advisable to sign up for Medicare during their initial enrollment period at age 65. This is because you will not be able to delay Medicare B without a penalty.
- You are covered by retiree health insurance from a previous employer. If you are covered by retiree health insurance though a previous employer – or through your spouse’s previous employer – it is also advisable to sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period because here, too, you will not be able to avoid a penalty in your Medicare B premium if you delay your enrollment.
Knowing when you can and cannot delay your Medicare Part B enrollment is essential to understand, as the penalty that you may have to pay in your premium amount can have an effect on what you pay for the long-term time horizon.
With many factors playing a part in when you should enroll it’s important that you enroll in Medicare during your intimal enrollment period. If you miss that window, without falling under one of the approved exemptions, you could be facing severe penalties. For every twelve months that you don’t enroll in Part B, even though you should be enrolled, you’ll be forced to pay a 10% penalty on your monthly premiums. You’ll pay this additional premium amount for the rest of your life.
Aside from having to pay more for your Part B coverage, not enrolling could also leave you with expensive bills and no assistance in paying for them. It’s easy to see why enrolling on time is so important.
Medigap Open Enrollment
The Medigap open enrollment starts the month you turn 65, and allows you to purchase extra coverage on top of your Parts A&B. Purchasing a Medigap plan, during this time gives you a hand up on the carriers who sell these plans. We will discuss that a little later.
The insurance companies that produce these plans are private, and each plan covers something extra that original medicare does not. The most comprehensive of these plans being Medigap Plan F. They are an excellent tool for offsetting the rising costs of health care that could leave you with financial strain because of hospital bills or treatments.
The two areas you come out ahead by enrolling now both deal with what your health looks like and how the insurance company cannot take advantage of this situation. In now way can they decline or refuse to accept your application nor can they charge you a higher rate because of any current health circumstances.
If you have any questions about enrolling in Medicare, your open enrollment dates, or a supplemental insurance policy, or any other questions about the program, or would like to receive some quotes for coverage, our team is available to chat at any time.