Myth Vs. Fact: You Can Enroll In Medicare Any Time.

Procrastinating on registering for your Medicare plan? You may want to rethink your strategy. There are detriments to late enrollment like coverage gaps and penalties. Furthermore, there is a specific time frame in which to register. So, when can you sign up for Medicare?

When Can I Enroll in Medicare?

People sign up for hospital coverage and medical/health insurance when they become eligible. Three months prior to turning 65, eligible individuals will receive information in the mail regarding their Medicare coverage.

The initial enrollment period is from three months prior to your 65th birthday to three months after the month of your birthday. When Medicare benefits begin depends on what month you registered but starts on the first of each month.

What Happens After the Initial Enrollment Period?

After the initial enrollment period has expired, only Plan B and Premium- Part A can be registered.

General Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31)

Individuals can register during general enrollment annually and coverage begins on July 1. You may be penalized with a monthly late enrollment fee if you do not qualify for the Special Enrollment Period.

Special Enrollment Period

Certain situations warrant not paying a late enrollment penalty when applying for medical insurance. This will allow you to register for both Premium –Part A and B benefits.

This is available for a specified time and if you don’t sign up, then you will need to wait for the general enrollment period and pay the penalties.

Situations, where you would qualify are:

Having existing health coverage through your employer and are still working. Part A/Part B can be done at any time providing you have group health coverage or you/spouse is employed with the company providing your health insurance.
There are eight months to register after your spouse or you cease employment or if group health insurance is terminated.
Serving/Volunteering in a foreign country.

Certain circumstances also exist with people in TRI CARE.

You will not qualify if:

COBRA coverage/retiree insurance expires. If the eight-month window expires, you will have to apply during General Enrollment.
Suffering from End-Stage Renal Disease.
Lost Marketplace coverage.

Once Medicare Part A is registered, there are only certain periods wherein you can enroll for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan. The time frames are similar. However, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15-December 7. This allows you to drop, switch, or join another plan.

The prescription drug coverage can only be added after the initial enrollment period.

Special Circumstances

There are provisions for Medicare enrollment at 62. Medicare eligibility occurs with the following criteria:

At least two years on Social Security Disability Insurance.
On SSDI due to ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease (two-year requirement waived).
Have end-stage renal disease.

If you are not enrolled in Social Security once you are 65, enrolling in a Medicare plan will need to be done online, by visiting the Social Security Office, or by phone.

Guided Insurance Solutions, LLC, and its affiliates, do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice.  This material has been prepared for informational purposes only.  Please consult with your own tax, legal or accounting professionals before engaging in any transaction.

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