Mark Your Calendar and Know When to Sign up for Medicare
If you are getting ready to retire and will soon become eligible for Medicare, you need to mark your calendar with information about open enrollment. As with most health insurance plans, open enrollment is the annual period when you can sign up for, change or cancel a health plan. Whether you are approaching age 65 and considering your health insurance options or want to make changes to your existing Medicare benefits, here’s what you need to know about enrollment periods.
For Original Medicare, which includes hospital and medical benefits (Part A and Part B), open enrollment is called general enrollment and occurs from the start of each year until March 31. You can also enroll in Part A and Part B plans during initial enrollment, from 3 months before until four months after you turn 65. If you already collect Social Security benefits and/or will begin collecting benefits on your 65th birthday, you will automatically be enrolled in an Original Medicare plan.
Although Part A benefits are usually free, Part B benefits carry a premium. If you delay signing up for Part B beyond initial enrollment for this reason, you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to Original Medicare, you can take advantage of a second open enrollment period introduced in 2019. This option is available between January 1 and March 31.
Medicare Advantage plans include both Part A and Part B benefits. These plans are administered by private insurance companies instead of by the federal government like Original Medicare plans.
Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage occurs annually from October 15 to December 7. This period is sometimes called fall open enrollment or the annual election period. During open enrollment, you can make changes to or cancel your existing Medicare Advantage plan as well as sign up for a new plan. You can also switch between Medicare Advantage plans during the period from January 1 to March 31.
Medicare Part D
If you have Original Medicare or if your Medicare Advantage plan does not include prescriptions, prescription drug coverage is available through a Medicare Part D plan. Usually, open enrollment for these plans mirrors open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Supplement Plans
These plans are designed to provide additional coverage for out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles. Although you can purchase a Medicare Supplement plan at any time after you turn 65, doing so during Medigap Open Enrollment prevents you from being rejected because of a pre-existing condition. This period starts when you enroll in Medicare Part B and lasts for six months.
If you have questions about Medicare open enrollment for any of these categories, a Medicare broker at Sackett & Associates Insurance Services can help. Before open enrollment each year, it makes sense to review your coverage to make sure you receive the health services you need at a price you can afford. Like us on Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our blog for more information about health insurance for seniors. You can also request a quote online for Medicare coverage through Medicare Advantage plans.