Medicare is one of the biggest milestones you will reach in the later stages of life. Before going down your Medicare path, there are few things you need to know. Did you know that some people are automatically approved and placed on Medicare? This isn’t always the case, as a lot of people have to sign up before getting into the program. You may have to sign up if you are 65 or close to turning 65 and not getting Social Security. If you choose to sign up for Medicare Part B when you first become eligible, you can avoid a potential penalty! There are two great upsides when it comes to getting into your Medicare program: 1) you can choose how you get your Medicare coverages and 2) there may be ways for you to have assistance on paying your Medicare costs.
There are time frames in which you need to sign up to be on the Medicare program. These time frames also relate to when you can change your existing Medicare coverage if need be. More information on time frames is located below.
The Initial Medicare Enrollment Period is the time in which most people sign up for Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). The time period starts three months before you turn 65 and ends 3 months after. As mentioned earlier, if you are not already collecting Social Security benefits before your Initial Enrollment Period starts, you will need to sign up for Medicare via online or contacting Social Security.
The General Medicare Enrollment Period is available if you missed the Initial Enrollment Period. This enrollment period is between January 1st and March 31st, and if you do enroll or make any changes during this time, coverage will go into full effect on July 1st.
The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is available if you missed either of the previous two enrollment periods. This enrollment period means that you can sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B during an SEP if you have special circumstances.
Overall, the best timeframe to join a Medicare or drug supplement (Part D) program is when you first turn 65. Making the effort to sign up when the opportunity first arises can help you avoid paying a lifetime Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty. If you could not get into the previously mentioned time frame, this would be your next best option. Medicare offers an Annual Open Enrollment Period which occurs from October 15th and December 7th. During this time, you have the chance to join a program, drop, or switch your coverage.
Need more information on Medicare? Reach out to your local agent today.