Medigap Open Enrollment Period
Your Medigap Open Enrollment Period is the six-month window that begins the first day of the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B. For example, if you turn 65 and are enrolled in Part B in January, you can buy a Medigap policy between January and June. This enrollment window cant be changed or repeated.
During this open enrollment period, you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems.
But after your open enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy depending on your health status and may be subject to a health review.
Your new coverage begins on the first day of the month after you sign up.
What Happens If I Am Late To Enroll In Medicare Part B
Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicare Part D may all charge late-enrollment penalties if you enroll after the period youre first eligible. Learn more about Medicare late-enrollment penalties .
If you already get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you are automatically entitled to Medicare Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn age 65. You will not need to do anything to enroll.
Applying For Medicare Online
Applying for Medicare online is a quick and easy process on the Social Security website, taking approximately ten minutes. After you have applied for Medicare online, you can check the status of your application and/or appeal, request a replacement card, and print a benefit verification letter.
Once you apply for Part B, give us a call so we can help you choose a supplement plan to cover what Medicare doesnt.
If youre not comfortable applying for Medicare online, you can do so over the phone.
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Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
Your first chance to enroll in Medicare is around age 65 when you have a seven-month window to apply. During the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B. You can look at plans or sign up at any time during the three months before, the month of, and the three months after your 65th birthday. Need coverage the month you turn 65? Sign up in the three-month window before your birthday.
Take a deeper dive in our related article about all-things Medicare Initial Enrollment Period.
Helping A Loved One Enroll In A Medicare Plan
This information can help you make good choices and take the worry out of helping a loved one enroll in Medicare.
- Verify current plan and monthly payment. Even if you are helping someone enroll for the first time, it is important to know what kind of coverage he or she has and what kind of coverage he or she will need. Also, be sure to consider plans that are appropriate for his or her monthly budget.
- Determine medical and prescription drug needs.
- Ask these important questions:
- How much is the monthly premium?
- How much is the deductible for different services?
- How much is the copayment?
- What is covered? What isn’t?
- Are my doctors covered by certain plans?
- Which plan covers the prescriptions my loved one is using?
- What other medical services are needed?
- Should we consider Medicare Advantage plans, which include drug coverage and fixed copayments?
Learn more about Keystone First VIP Choice and understanding Medicare.
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Confirm Your Medicare Enrollment
You should also be aware that applying for Medicare for the first time is a two step process, Youll first need to submit an application online then open an email from SSA to confirm your enrollment.
Failure to could result in your application being incomplete and therefore not submitted, Norce says.
To submit an application for Medicare online, go to ssa.gov/benefits/medicare and select the blue button for Apply for Medicare Only about halfway down the page. This will take you to a secure page to begin your application.
If You Delayed Medicare Because You Were Still Working
If you delayed enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B because you were still working, then you can enroll online for both Part A and Part B.
There are also two forms you need to fill out and send in to Social Security. This shows that you were covered under employer or other creditable insurance. As long as you can provide proof of coverage then you wont have any penalty for not signing up when you were first eligible at 65.
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How Do I Sign Up For Medicare
There are three ways to apply for Medicare:
- OnlineYou may apply for Medicare online through the Social Security Administration website. The application process typically takes no more than 10 minutes to complete.
- Call 1-800-772-1213 between 7am and 7pm Monday through Friday to apply over the phone. If you are hard of hearing, you may dial 1-800-325-0778.
- In personVisit your local Social Security office to apply for Medicare in person.
If you’re eligible for or enrolled in Medicare and you want to compare your Medicare plan options, a licensed insurance agent may be able to help.
You can call to speak with an agent who can help you compare Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare prescription drug plans that are available where you live. If you’re eligible, an agent may be able to help you enroll over the phone.
You can also compare plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.
Find Medicare Advantage plans in your area
Or call 1-800-557-6059TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!
Signing Up For A Medicare Advantage Plan
If you prefer to get your health coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, you must first enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B and then switch to a separate Medicare Advantage plan.
All Medicare Advantage plans must offer the same Medicare Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, but some plans include other benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, dental and vision.
Medicare Advantage Plans do not all offer the same benefits.
Use the Medicare Plan Finder or call your local SHIP representative to compare plans in your area.
Four Ways to Sign Up for a Medicare Advantage Plan
To join a Medicare Advantage plan, you will need your Medicare number and the date your Part A and Part B coverage began.
Free Medicare Help
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Medicare Special Enrollment Period
You may choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B when you are first eligible because you are already covered by group medical insurance through an employer or union. If you lose your group insurance, or if you decide you want to switch from your group coverage to Medicare, you can sign up at any time that you are still covered by the group plan or during a Special Enrollment Period.
Your eight-month special enrollment period begins either the month that your employment ends or when your group health coverage ends, whichever occurs first. If you enroll during an SEP, you generally do not have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
The Special Enrollment Period does not apply if youre eligible for Medicare because you have ESRD. Please also keep in mind that COBRA and retiree health coverage are not considered current employer coverage and would not qualify you for a special enrollment period.
It Pays To Enroll On Time
If you miss your initial enrollment window to sign up for Medicare, you can do so later on. But know this: For each 12-month period youre eligible for coverage but dont apply, youll risk a 10% surcharge on your Part B premiums.
If youre still working during your initial enrollment period and have group health coverage, youll get a special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare later on, and you wont have to worry about that penalty. But otherwise, enrolling on time can not only save you money, but ensure that you have coverage when you need it.
Maurie Backman has been writing professionally for well over a decade, and her coverage area runs the gamut from healthcare to personal finance to career advice. Much of her writing these days revolves around retirement and its various components and challenges, including healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, and money management.
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When To Enroll In Medicare If I Am Receiving Disability Benefits:
If you are under 65 and receiving certain disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, after 24 months of disability benefits. The exception to this is if you have end-stage renal disease . If you have ESRD and had a kidney transplant or need regular kidney dialysis, you can apply for Medicare. If you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , you will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare in the same month that your disability benefits start
What Is The Medicare Part B Late
If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you may need to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. Your monthly Part B premium could be 10% higher for every full 12-month period that you were eligible for Part B, but didnt take it. This higher premium could be in effect for as long as you are enrolled in Medicare. For those who are not automatically enrolled, there are various Medicare enrollment periods during which you can apply for Medicare. Be aware that, with certain exceptions, there are late-enrollment penalties for not signing up for Medicare when you are first eligible.
One exception is if you have health coverage through an employer health plan or through your spouses employer plan, you can delay Medicare Part B enrollment without paying a late-enrollment penalty. This health coverage must be based on current employment, meaning that COBRA or retiree benefits arent considered current employer health coverage.
Information And Documents You Need To Enroll In Medicare
Getting ready to enroll in Medicare? You can do that online. But, first, if you don’t have one, you must establish a My Social Security account. In some cases, you may need to prove your identity, age, and citizenship. According to the Social Security website, here are the documents you may need:
- Your birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of United States citizenship or legal residency, such as a passport
- Driver’s license
It would be a good idea to establish this account before you’re ready to enroll. If there are issues confirming your identity, it may take time or a visit to your local Social Security office.
Then, when it’s time to enroll, once the account is established, you may need additional information to answer the questions.
- Your Social Security card, if you are already receiving benefits
- Health insurance information about the type and dates of coverage
- Information about your employment, such as a W-2 form, if you are still working
- US military discharge papers if you served before 1968
If you sign up for Medicare online or by phone, you may need to submit additional information. Social Security will let you know if you need to do this and what that information might be.
Basics Of Medicare Part D
There are two ways to get prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D.
- Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan . If you enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug plan, it works alongside your Original Medicare benefits.
- Or, enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage, or an MA-PD. A Medicare Advantage plan is an alternative way to get your Original Medicare benefits. These plans might also offer coverage for additional services like routine vision or dental care, and prescription medications.
Medicare Part D enrollment provides you with choices of plans in most service areas. All plans are required by Medicare to offer a standard level of coverage. Some plans may offer additional benefits beyond this standard. The cost of plans may include monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. The amounts can vary from plan to plan.
Prescription Drug plans include formularies, which are a list of the medications that are covered under the plan. Some formularies have tiers. Medications in lower tiers may have lower costs. Generic medications are often included in the lower tiers. When you are preparing for Medicare Part D enrollment, it is important to make sure the medications you take are included in the plans formulary.
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When Can I Sign Up For Medicare
- 3 months before the month you turn 65
- The month you turn 65
- 3 months after the month you turn 65
To avoid a gap in coverage, you should enroll in Medicare prior to the month you turn 65. In other words, if you wait until the month you turn 65 to enroll, your Medicare coverage may be delayed. Furthermore, if you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. Learn when to enroll in Medicare Part B.
How To Apply For Medicare Through Social Security
Apply online: The easiest way to complete the Medicare enrollment application is online at ssa.gov. Its convenient to sign up from home. You can start and stop the application and save your information. After you submit your application, youll get a receipt to print and keep. You can also check the status of your application.
Apply in person: Visit your local Social Security office. You can find the nearest office with the Social Security office locator. They recommend that you make an appointment.
Apply by phone: Call Social Security at 800-772-1213 .
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Original Medicare And Medicare Advantage
Original Medicare, a government program, consists of the combination of Part A hospital insurance with Part B medical insurance.
However, if you sign up for Medicare Part A only, then you do not qualify for other helpful benefits through Medicare health plans, which require having Original Medicare.
A central choice that Medicare beneficiaries make lies between getting health insurance through the government Medicare program, or through a private plan that provides equal or greater coverage than the government program.
Without both Medicare Part A and Part B, a person cannot get any benefits from Part C: Medicare Advantage plans, or the added protection of Medigap.
Medicare Advantage plans can offer more benefits than Original Medicare while possibly costing less. These Part C can even build in the prescription coverage of Part D.
Comparison shopping will help subscribers compare Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
How To Sign Up For Medicare Heres What You Need To Know
You can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B in the following ways:
- Online at www.SocialSecurity.gov.
- In-person at your local Social Security office.
If you worked at a railroad, enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 . You can call Monday through Friday, 9AM to 3:30PM, to speak to an RRB representative.
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How Do I Check On My Online Medicare Application
You can check on the status of your Medicare application at any time using your My Social Security account. You can use the confirmation number you received when you submitted your application.
Youll be able to see when your application has been received, is processing, and is approved. You can also call Social Security at 800-722-1213 to check on your status.
Youll receive a decision letter in the mail when Social Security is done processing your application.
Youll also receive your Medicare card in the mail, as long as your application was approved. It generally takes less than a month from the time you apply to the time you receive your card in the mail.
When To Enroll In Medicare
Medicare eligibility begins once you turn 65, but you actually get a seven-month initial enrollment window to register. That period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday, and it ends three months after the month you turn 65. It pays to sign up for Medicare on time, because if you don’t, you’ll risk a lifelong surcharge on your Part B premiums.
That said, if you’re still working at age 65 and have coverage under a group health plan, or have coverage under a spouse’s group health plan, then you don’t necessarily need to rush to sign up for Medicare for fear that you’ll incur a Part B penalty for being late. Those covered under group health plans at age 65 get a special enrollment period to sign up for Medicare once their group coverage ends, and only once that period expires do you need to worry about late enrollment penalties.
On the other hand, it often pays to enroll in Medicare Part A at 65 even if you’re covered by a group health plan. The reason? Part A is free for most enrollees, and if you have health insurance through a job, Medicare can serve as secondary insurance and perhaps pick up certain costs your primary plan won’t cover. The main reason it wouldn’t make sense to enroll in Part A while also covered through work is if you’re contributing to a health savings account, since you can’t participate in one of those while on Medicare.
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