As you plan to incorporate Medicare into your long-term healthcare plan, it’s essential to be aware of the different dates for enrollment. Missing these deadlines can cost you, sometimes permanently, and you could suffer a lapse in coverage when you need it most. Here are important dates to know:
Initial Medicare Enrollment Period: The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare spans the full three months before, the month of, and the three months after your birthday month the year you turn 65. Within this seven-month period, you are eligible to sign up for Medicare parts A, B, C, and D. Your coverage begins based on when you enrolled, but no earlier than your birthday month.
If you miss the Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll later. However, if you don’t by age 65, and if you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you’ll be penalized by 10% for every 12 months you could have been enrolled but were not.
Special Enrollment Period: If you are 65, have employer-sponsored health insurance, and your employer has more than 20 employees, you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Special Enrollment eligibility varies and usually does not incur a late enrollment penalty.
General Enrollment Period: If you miss both your IEP and your SEP, you can still enroll in Medicare by signing up Parts A and B between January 1st and March 31st of each year. In that case, your coverage would begin on July 1st of the same year, and you may incur a penalty for late enrollment.
Open Enrollment Period: There are two separate open enrollment periods each year. During this time, current Medicare users get a chance to evaluate their coverage and potentially make changes. Medicare has one main open enrollment window from Oct 15th to Dec 7th each year. There’s also a Medicare Advantage open enrollment period annually from Jan 1st to March 31st.
Mark your calendar with these important dates! If you need help building a timeline to align your financial needs with your Medicare enrollment schedule, we’d be happy to help you evaluate your options.
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