The time is nearly here – time to take care of your Medicare enrollment! You probably know that you must be 65 years old to enroll, but you may have a lot of questions about how to sign up for Medicare. When exactly are you allowed to enroll? When do your Medicare benefits go into effect? Which Medicare Parts Should You Enroll in? Our Medicare consultants have written this blog to help you answer all of these benefits questions and more.
How to Enroll in Medicare
For most people, Part A and Part B enrollment will be automatic. If you are already collecting Social Security, you’re likely in this group. If you are 65 years old (or will be soon) and not receiving Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, you will need to sign up for Medicare Part A and B manually. There are 4 ways to enroll in Part A and B:
Visit your local Social Security office (this may not be an option during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
Sign up online at www.ssa.gov/medicare
Call the Social Security office at 800-772-1213
Call Delta Medicare Benefits Group, and one of our expert Medicare consultants will help you sign up for free: (901) 460-7220
A Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is also an option for you. These plans are closer to traditional insurance coverage. With Medicare Advantage, instead of your Part A and B coming from the government, it will come from a private insurance company. Typically, Part D is included in these plans, along with extra benefits including vision, dental, hearing, gym memberships, and, in some cases, over-the-counter benefits. You won’t have to separately enroll in Part D (see below). To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), call Delta Medicare Benefits Group. We’ll help you choose the right plan and insurance provider for you. We’ll also keep an eye on rates from other insurance companies to ensure you get the best rate every year.
To enroll in Medicare Part D (your prescription drug coverage), you’ll either select a standalone plan (Original Medicare), or you’ll select an MAPD plan (Medicare Advantage + prescriptions). You can enroll in Part D online using Medicare’s plan finder tool, or you can call Delta Medicare Benefits Group representatives to help you select the right plan for you based on your location, prescriptions, and circumstances.
If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part D on time, you may have to pay late penalties, which will last for as long as you have Medicare. Late fees will accrue as long as you don’t have Part D, so when you do enroll, you’ll pay a lot more than you would have had to pay had you enrolled on time. We’ll cover enrollment periods below, so you know when you’ll need to enroll in Part D.
When Can I Enroll?
Medicare has several enrollment periods. Here’s how they work.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) - This is when you are first eligible to enroll in Medicare. The period is different for everyone as it is determined by the date of your 65th birthday. Based on your birthday, IEP is a 7-month period, which begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birth month, and lasts for 3 months following your birth month. For example, if you turn 65 on September 19, your IEP will be from June 1 - December 31.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) - This period is from October 15 - December 7 every year. During this time, you are able to make changes to your MAPD and Part D. If you need to make changes this year, contact our Medicare consultants at (901) 460-7220 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make a free appointment.
Open Enrollment Period (OEP) - This period lasts from January 1 - March 31 yearly, and it is only for people enrolled in an MAPD plan. You can make changes to your MAPD plan or go back to Original Medicare during OEP.
General Enrollment Period (GEP) - If you miss your IEP, you can enroll in Medicare during this time. GEP is from January 1 - March 31 every year. If you enroll during this time period, your Medicare will go into effect July 1 of that year. Note that late enrollment penalties may apply if you miss your IEP and wait for GEP.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP) - The Medicare system knows things happen in life. This is why SEPs exist. There are several reasons you may have an SEP, including moving out of your service area, a natural disaster, leaving your group insurance, etc.
When Will My Medicare Go into Effect?
The date your Medicare will go into effect depends on when you sign up for it. During your IEP, if you enroll before you turn 65, your coverage will begin on day 1 of the month of your birthday. If your birthday falls on the 1st of the month, your Medicare will begin the month before you turn 65.
If you sign up during your birth month, your Medicare coverage will begin the next month on the 1st. If you wait until after your birth month to sign up, during your IEP, there may be a larger delay in getting your Medicare benefits:
Enrolling the month following your birth month means your coverage will start 2 months after your enrollment
Enrolling 2 or 3 months after your 65th birthday (at the end of your IEP) means your Medicare will begin 3 months after you enroll.
If you wait until the GEP, your Medicare will begin July 1 of that year. Remember that signing up during GEP may result in a late penalty.
Enrolling during an SEP generally means your Medicare will start the month after you enroll.
If you have questions about your specific enrollment situation, please reach out to our Medicare consultants at email@example.com. We’re happy to help you better understand your Medicare enrollment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medicare Enrollment
In this section, we’ll include a few frequently asked questions we hear from our clients regarding Medicare enrollment. If you don’t see your question answered below, sign up for our regular Medicare seminars (online or in person), check out our dedicated FAQ page, or give us a call.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Enroll in Medicare?
To enroll in Medicare, you have to be 65 years old.
How to Apply for Medicare Online?
If you’d like to apply for Medicare online, you can enroll in Part A and Part B by visiting www.ssa.gov/medicare, or give us a call, and we will do it for you. If you’d like to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan online or a Part D standalone plan, check out Medicare’s online plan finder tool. Remember that shopping around for the right plan can save you a lot of money every year.
When Can I Change My Plan?
You can change your Medicare Advantage plan during Open Enrollment (yearly Oct 15 - Dec 7) or Annual Enrollment (yearly Jan 1 - March 31).
If you’d like to change your plan or take a look at comparable plans to see if a better price exists, call Delta Medicare Benefits at (901) 460-7220 to set up a free appointment. You can also do this yourself on the Medicare website.
Where Can I Find More Medicare Information?
If you have remaining questions about your Medicare benefits, be sure to follow our blog updates. We are constantly updating our blog to keep you up to date with the latest in all things Medicare. Similarly, we have regular Medicare seminars, which you can attend in person at our Memphis offices (in the i-Bank tower on Poplar), or online via a webinar complete with a chat feature where you can ask all of your questions, and we can respond in real time. Sign up for our next seminar here.
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