What Are The Risks Of Enrolling Late In Medicare Part B
Remember that if you do not enroll in Medicare Part B during your Special Enrollment Period, youll have to wait until the next General Enrollment Period, which happens from January 1 to March 31 each year. You may then have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B because you could have had Part B and did not enroll. If you owe a late-enrollment penalty, youll pay a additional 10% on your premium for every 12-month period that you were eligible for Medicare Part B but didnt sign up for it. You may have to pay this higher premium for as long as youre enrolled in Medicare.
Do I Need Medicare Part B
We always advise our clients to contact their employer or union benefits administrator before delaying Part A and Part B to learn more about how their insurance works with Medicare. Employer coverage may require that you enroll in both Part A and Part B to receive full coverage.
Common reasons beneficiaries delay Part B include:
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment happens every year from Jan. 1 to March 31. If youre enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to make changes, you can do one of these:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage
- Go back to Original Medicare and, if needed, also join a Medicare prescription drug plan
Your new coverage begins on the first day of the month following the month you make a change and will be in effect for the rest of the year.
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When Is My Initial Enrollment Period For Medicare Part D:
You can enroll in a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan during your Initial Enrollment Period for Part D. You are eligible for prescription drug coverage if:
- You live in a service area covered by the health plan, and
- You have Medicare Part A AND/OR Medicare Part B.
Generally, your Initial Enrollment Period for Part D will occur at the same time as your Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B .
Once you are eligible for Medicare Part D, you must either enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan, Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, or have creditable prescription drug coverage. Some people may choose to delay Medicare Part D enrollment if they already have creditable prescription drug coverage through an employer group plan.
However, if you do not sign up for prescription drug coverage when you are first eligible for Part D, you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for signing up later if you go without creditable prescription drug coverage for 63 or more consecutive days.
When You Can Enroll For Health Coverage The Best Ways To Do It And How To Avoid Penalties
by Dena Bunis, AARP, Updated October 12, 2021
En español | Turning 65 is the trigger point for the vast majority of Americans to enroll in Medicare. Since the Social Security Administration handles enrollments, you will typically sign up at the Social Security office nearest you or online at SSA.gov. Failing to enroll in Medicare on time could cost you, so pay attention to the various enrollment options outlined below to keep from getting hit with a penalty for missing the sign-up window.
Here are the most important things you need to know about when and how to enroll in this federal health insurance program.
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If I Delay Taking Medicare Part B When Can I Enroll
You can sign up for Medicare Part B at any time that you have coverage through current or active employment. Or you can sign up for Medicare during the eight-month Special Enrollment Period that starts when your employer or union group coverage ends or you stop working . If you get COBRA insurance or retiree benefits after you stop working, keep in mind that this doesnt count as coverage based on current employment make sure you dont wait until your COBRA benefits end to enroll in Medicare Part B.
NEW TO MEDICARE?
You Automatically Get Medicare When You Turn 65
- Well mail you a welcome package with your Medicare card 3 months before your Medicare coverage starts.
Sign up for Part B if you live in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S.You get Part A automatically. If you want Part B, you need to sign up for it. If you dont sign up for Part B within 3 months of turning 65, you might have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty.
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How Do You Get Help With This Application
- Phone: Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
- En español: Llame a SSA gratis al 1-800-772-1213 y oprima el 2 si desea el servicio en español y espere a que le atienda un agente.
- In person: Your local Social Security office. For an office near you check www.ssa.gov.
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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Dont Register For Medicare Alone
If youre uncomfortable with applying for Medicare alone, we can help! Our services are completely free for you. If you would like an agent by your side when applying, contact us. We can walk you through setting up all your coverage, including Medicare, Medigap, Part D, and more.
Plus, when you use us to apply, you get unlimited support from our Client Service Team. That means if you have any issues with claims or appeals, we can help at no additional cost. You can compare rates online or give us a call today at the number above.
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If You Are Under Age 65 And Disabled:
If you are under age 65 and disabled, and have been entitled to disability benefits under Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months, you will be automatically entitled to Medicare Part A and Part B beginning the 25th month of disability benefit entitlement. You will not need to do anything to enroll in Medicare. Your Medicare card will be mailed to you about 3 months before your Medicare entitlement date. , you get your Medicare benefits the first month you get disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.) For more information about enrollment, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit the Social Security web site. See also Social Security’s Medicare FAQs.
For more information, see Medicare.gov
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Applying For Medicare Part B If You Already Have Part A
Unfortunately, if you apply for only Part A during your initial enrollment period, you cannot later apply for Part B online.
Many people delay signing up for Medicare Part B during their Initial Enrollment Period because theyre still working and have health insurance through an employer. However, most still sign up for Medicare Part A since its free. And that makes a lot of sense you can often get more services covered or the same services covered better this way.
In light of sweeping business closures and unexpected job loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Medicare Beneficiaries with Medicare Part A and employer health care plans find themselves without jobsand without adequate health care coverage. Many who werent planning on retiring so soon suddenly need to apply for Medicare Part B.
Although there are a few extra hoops to jump through to enroll in only Medicare Part B , you can still complete the process in a few steps.
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Note: When completing the forms:
- State, “I want Part B coverage to begin ” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
- If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
- Submit one of the following types of secondary evidence by uploading it from a saved document on your computer:
- Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
- W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
- Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
- Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
- Explanations of benefits paid by the Group Health Plan or Large Group Health Plan.
- Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums. Please let your friends and loved ones know about this online, mail, or fax option.
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Be Aware Of Other Enrollment Periods
Most people sign up for Medicare during the seven-month initial enrollment period around their 65th birthday.
But what if you missed your initial enrollment period and want to make changes or add additional coverage?
There are specific times each year when you can do this.
Alternate Medicare Enrollment Periods
The Best Time To Sign Up For Medicare Part B
U.S. seniors have a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period during which they can sign up for Medicare Part B or Part A. This period spans the time before and after your 65th birthday. It begins three months before your birthday month, includes your birthday month, and extends three months after.
If you dont sign up for Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you may face a late enrollment penalty.
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How To Sign Up For Medicare Part B Online
Are you working past 65?Retiring soon or thinking about leaving your employer plan? You can now fill out the Part B enrollment form online and get your Part B effective electronically. Individuals may use this online enrollment application if they are 65 or older and have or had group health plan coverage within the last 8 months through an employer.
Social Security Field Offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the Social Security Administration will be taking Medicare Part B enrollment applications online for working aged individuals who qualify for a Special Enrollment Period .
To complete this online enrollment application, you will need:
- Your Medicare number
- Your current address and phone number
- A valid email address
Signing Up For A Medigap Policy
To purchase a Medigap supplement insurance policy, you must first enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B.
The best time to enroll in a Medigap plan is when you are first eligible.
This is a six-month enrollment period that begins the month youre 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
If you apply for Medigap coverage after this six-month window, private insurance companies may not sell you a policy if youre in poor health.
You can find a Medigap policy by using an online tool on the Medicare website, contacting your local SHIP or calling your State Insurance Department.
How to Sign Up for a Medigap Policy Online
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When Do I Get My Medicare Card
In most circumstances, youll get a Medicare I.D. card several weeks after your initial application. However, waiting times can be up to 90 days. If you are automatically enrolled in Medicare because you already get Social Security benefits, you will receive your I.D. card two months before turning 65.
Applying For Medicare By Phone
Just like applying online, applying for Medicare by phone is easy. You can contact a representative at 1-800-772-1213.
Depending on the volume of calls, there might be a wait time. If the wait time is above average, you can schedule an appointment to have a representative call you.
The only downfall with applying for Medicare by phone is that it can take longer compared to online. If youre ahead of the game and start well before your birthday, then applying by phone shouldnt cause any issues. If you do not wish to apply online or by phone, you can choose to do so in person.
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How To Apply For Medicare
Medicare enrollment is easier than ever. Once you meet eligibility requirements, you are ready to choose from a variety of plans in which to enroll. As we mentioned earlier, some beneficiaries can receive automatic enrollment, and some have to apply manually.
There are three ways to apply for Medicare Part A and Part B:
If you have previously been a railroad employee, you can enroll in Medicare by contacting the Railroad Retirement Board, Monday Friday, from 9:00 AM 3:30 PM at 1-877-772-5772.
Medicare applications generally take between 30-60 days to obtain approval.
The Steps To Apply For Medicare Online If You Dont Have Part A And Part B
- The first step to apply online for Medicare is to go to ssa.gov or socialsecurity.gov Social security handles all the sign ups for Medicare, so dont worry that you are not enrolling in Medicare.
- Youll need to create a MySocialSecurity Account is you dont already have one. Just go to the top right and click Sign In/Sign Up. If you dont have an account already then just follow the steps to create a username and password.
- The next step is to apply for your Medicare. From the home page of ssa.gov, youll want to click on the box that says Medicare Enrollment. On the next page, scroll about three quarters of the way down and look for the Blue button that says Apply for Medicare Only. Here is where you can also come back and request a replacement Medicare card, check your application status, or return to a saved application if you havent finished it yet.
- This is where you can apply online for Retirement and/or Medicare benefits. Click on start a new application. Or you can return to a saved application. You will type in all the requested information about you.
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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
How Do I Enroll In Medicare
Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to enroll in Medicare or to ask questions about whether you are eligible. You can also visit their web site at www.socialsecurity.gov.
The Medicare.gov Web site also has a tool to help you determine if you are eligibile for Medicare and when you can enroll. It is called the Medicare Eligibility Tool.
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Do You Have To Sign Up For Medicare When Youre 65
As long as you have creditable coverage, you dont have to enroll in Medicare when you are 65. Technically, you dont have to sign up for Medicare at all if you dont want to. Medicare is not mandatory, but it is important to be aware that if you choose to sign up later without creditable coverage, youll incur penalties that you may be stuck with for the rest of your life.
The most common reason a new beneficiary may delay enrolling in Medicare is that they have coverage through their employer. However, not all group coverage is creditable coverage. The size of your employer will determine if the coverage is creditable.
When To Sign Up For Medicare Part B
If youre retiring, the best time to enroll in Part B is during your Initial Enrollment Period. For those still working past 65, check with your health administrators whether your employer coverage is creditable.
If it is, you can enroll in Part B when you retire or leave your group health plan. Youll be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period when you can enroll without any penalties. If your group health plan is not considered creditable coverage, then you should register for Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period.
If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, the next enrollment window you can enroll in Part A and Part B is the General Enrollment Period.
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