Author: Carmelo DeFranco
Date: 06/16/2022
Reading Time: 3 minutes

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To some people, knowing when to enroll in Medicare is tricky. However, this article will help you determine when you are eligible for Medicare, available coverage options, and how you can avoid late enrollment penalties. Here are some of the things you should know:

What’s the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare?

The IEP (Initial Enrollment Period) for Medicare refers to seven months when you need to apply and enroll in a Medicare plan. Ideally, the IEP starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months later. It is essential to understand that the only way you can avoid late enrollment penalties is by choosing your Medicare plan during the IEP. It is prudent to sign up for Medicare 3 months before your birthday if you need coverage immediately after turning 65.

During the Initial Enrollment Period, there are several Medicare plans you can choose from depending on your financial and medical situation. Original Medicare (Parts A & B) entails coverage for medical services, long-term hospital care, inpatient hospital, and skilled nursing facility. If the original Medicare (Parts A & B) does not cover your healthcare needs, you can always get additional coverage from a private insurer. Here are common plans you can enroll to:

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans)

This plan combines Medicare Parts A and B into a simple plan with Part D and other extras, for example, fitness benefits, dental, and travel.

Medicare Cost Plans

This plan is available to counties that do not have Medicare Part C. the Medicare Cost Plans work hand in hand with the Original Medicare plan to provide additional health benefits.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans

This Medicare plan aims at bridging the gap between what you may need and what the Original Medicare Provides. In essence, with Medigap, you can get additional services not included in your Original Medicare Plan.

Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)

Typically, the Original Medicare Plan does not cover prescription drugs. Ergo, depending on your medical needs, signing up for Prescription Drug Coverage during the Initial Enrollment Period is a good idea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

i. What happens if I change my mind after enrolling?

If you change your mind or do not like the Medicare Plan you’ve chosen, you can make the changes you need during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). However, this applies if you have enrolled in Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost, or Medicare Part D.

ii. What happens if I miss the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)?

Although you will have to pay a late enrollment penalty, you can still sign up later for Medicare Part B and/or D. Other enrollment options include:

• January 1st to March 31st every year; General Enrollment Period (GEP)

• The Special Enrollment Period (SEP); However, there are certain restrictions you must fulfill to be eligible and enroll.

iii. Do I automatically get signed up for Medicare after turning 65?

If you are not receiving the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security benefits, you do not automatically get signed up for Medicare upon turning 65. However, if you are receiving these benefits, you will get your Medicare card before turning 65.

You need to keep an eye on the Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare. Remember, it is up to you to determine your eligibility and enroll when it is your time to avoid late enrollment penalties.

iv. Must I have Medicare after turning 65?

Although it is not mandatory to have Medicare after turning 65, you must sign up for Medicare Part A once you enroll in Social Security. Medicare Parts B, C, and D are optional (not mandatory). Therefore, you can delay signing up for either of these plans if you have a reliable medical coverage plan.

v. Can I delay Medicare coverage without incurring a penalty?

Yes. You can delay enrolling in Medicare Part B without a penalty. However, your spouse should have an active plan (to cover you) or have health insurance via your current job. If your job’s health insurance or spouse’s Medicare plan stops working, you have eight months to sign up for Medicare Part B. If you have queries, it is essential to seek professional advice or clarification to avoid making mistakes.

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