How do you enroll in Medicare? For most people, signing up for benefits happens during a seven-month period around your 65th birthday. Many other people eligible for benefits due to a disability are automatically enrolled. Medicare Advantage plans need to be renewed or switched every year, and that happens during Open Enrollment or Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment. If you want to enroll in a Medicare Supplement, the best time to do so is in the first six months after you are 65 and enrolled in Part B.
You can sign up for Medicare by visiting your local Social Security office or by utilizing the official Social Security websites.
Initial Enrollment Period
People turning 65 should be preparing to sign up for Medicare. You can first sign up during the three months before the month of your 65th birthday. Your Initial Enrollment Period continues to include your birthday month and the three months following.
If you sign up for Medicare during the three months leading up to your birthday, your coverage will start on the first day of the month of your birthday. For those with birthdays on the first of the month, coverage will begin on the first day of the month before your birthday.
If you sign up for Medicare during the month of your birthday, your coverage will begin one month after you sign up. If you sign up in the month after your birthday, your coverage will begin two months after you sign up. If you sign up two months after your birthday, your coverage will begin three months later. If you sign up during the third month after your birthday, your coverage will begin three months after you sign up.
If you do not sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period, the next time you can sign up is during General Enrollment, which goes from January 1 to March 31. Coverage for those who sign up during this time begins on July 1. Signing up late for Medicare may result in late enrollment penalties.
Special Enrollment Periods
You may be able to delay enrollment in Part B without facing a penalty. People who change where they live, lose their current coverage, have a chance to get other coverage, or have plans that change their contracts with Medicare may be eligible for special enrollment periods due to their circumstances.
One of the more common reasons to delay enrolling in Part B is if you have secondary medical insurance through an employer or union. When this coverage ends or if you are no longer employed, whichever comes first, you have eight months to enroll in Medicare.
The Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. During this time, people who are already enrolled in Medicare can join, switch, or drop a plan. Coverage changes begin on the following January 1. These changes can include joining a Medicare Advantage plan, switching to a new Medicare Advantage plan, joining a Part D drug plan, switching from one drug plan to another, and more.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment
From January 1 to March 31 is Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment for people who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. During this time, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another plan, with or without drug coverage. You can also drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. If you do this, you can join a Medicare drug plan.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment for Medicare Supplements is different for each senior. This six-month period begins when you are 65 and first enroll in Medicare Part B. During these six months, you cannot be turned away from buying a policy due to your health.
If you have further questions about enrolling in Medicare, contact your Medicare experts today.
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