I Am Turning 65, When Can I Enroll In Medicare?
Most individuals can enroll into Original Medicare upon turning 65. Part A is generally free, while Part B has a standard monthly premium of $164.90 as of 2023. While enrollment into Part A is automatic, those that are not claiming social security benefits at or prior to 65 must proactively enroll in Medicare Part B through the Social Security Administration. This can be done online at ssa.gov, or in person at any Social Security Office. The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Part B usually begins about 3 months prior to, the month of, and three months after turning 65. If you are already claiming Social Security benefits, you will be automatically in enrolled into Medicare Part B.
I Am On Permanent Disability, When Can I Enroll In Medicare?
Most individuals may enroll into Original Medicare upon turning 65, having disability for 24 months, or having ESRD. For those on permanent disability, Social Security will automatically enroll beneficiaries into Medicare Parts A and B on the 25th month of their disability. This results in an Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare Supplements 6 months prior to and past the Medicare Part B date, and 3 months prior to and past the Medicare Part B date for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans. Those on disability are limited to certain Medicare Supplements, but they still provide excellent coverage. People on disability will be given a new Open Enrollment upon turning 65 where they can choose the Medicare Supplements available to the general population.
What If I Do Not Need Or Want Medicare
Part B Right Now?
If you have credible coverage (Employer, VA, TRICARE) that is recognized by Medicare upon turning 65, you may waive Part B and will not be penalized. Once you leave your credible coverage, you are given an 8 month Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Part B.
If you are claiming Social Security already you will automatically be enrolled into Part B.
If are sent a Medicare card with Part B on it, simply sign the back of the card and return as instructed in the initial Medicare welcome letter. This will cancel your Part B enrollment.
If you do not have credible coverage, and do not enroll within 3 months of turning 65, you will be fined 10% of the monthly premium as a permanent penalty and be withheld from enrolling until between January 1st – March 31st of the following year.
When Can I Enroll Into a Medicare Supplement or Prescription Drug Plan?
Beneficiaries can enroll into a Medicare Supplement plan 6 months prior to, the month of, and 6 months past the month of their 65th birthday or Part B effective date, whichever is later. During this period, called Open Enrollment, clients are not required to answer health underwriting questions. If beneficiaries enroll during this Open Enrollment period, Medicare Supplement policies are guaranteed issue for the life of the beneficiary and cannot be cancelled based on health claims. Please see our page on Medicare supplement or Medigap Plans for more information.
As for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug plans, the window is 3 months prior, the month of, and 3 months after turning 65 or enrolling into Part B of Medicare. For a Medicare Advantage plan, having Medicare Part A and Part B is required. For more information on Medicare Advantage click here. For prescription drug plans, Medicare Part A and/or Part B is required. To read more about Part D and prescription drug plans, click here.
What is the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?
Medicare Annual Enrollment is the period from October 15th through December 7th in which Medicare allows beneficiaries to change their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug plan. The new enrollment always starts as of the following January 1st. Beneficiaries can make as many plan changes as they would like to their PDP or MAPD during this period; the last enrollment prior to December 7th will be the one take place for the following year. This does not include Medicare Supplements, which require beneficiaries to undergo medical underwriting to make a change outside of their Initial Open Enrollment.
Can I Switch My Medicare Supplement
Plan Every Year?
You can, but you must pass medical underwriting to do so. This means the insurance company will first ask you a series of health questions. These range from what prescriptions you're currently taking to any serious chronic conditions you may have. They will then look through your medical records to check for accuracy and see if they missed anything. If they deem you are healthy enough they will happily switch you over to the new plan.
You can do this at anytime of the year. This doesn't need to be done during Annual Enrollment or any other period.