Medicare Enrollment Periods
Medicare's enrollment periods can be difficult to understand.
There is an Initial Election Period (IEP), a Special Election Period (SEP) and then the General Election Period (GEP).
How do you choose the correct one for you? How do you know which one applies to you?
We'll break them all down for you. If all else fails, call one of our advisors for some hand-holding.
The Initial Enrollment Period of Medicare
It seems that everyone knows about the "three months or something like that" enrollment timeframe related to Medicare.
However, many don't understand how it works.
This happens ONE time. And, it happens ONLY as you approach your 65th birthday
So, three months before your 65th birth MONTH, your actual birth month, and the three months following your 65th birth month? That is YOUR initial election period for Medicare.
If you missed that personal election period? You missed it. Over. If you are now 67, for example, the "three month thing" has nothing to do with you (but don't worry!).
If you miss that sign up time, you'll need to look towards the next two enrollment windows.
The Special Enrollment Period of Medicare
Many people intentionally bypass their Initial Enrollment Period into Medicare when they have insurance coverage through a workplace.
When you are over age 65, working (at an employer with over 20 employees) and have credible coverage at that workplace (or you are insured through your spouse's active worker status group insurance), you are not required to enroll into Medicare. You can enroll, but you are not required to do so.
So, let's say that you are now 68 and want to retire and enroll into Medicare. You may do that at any month in the calendar year and this is what is called your "special enrollment period".
Certain timing issues are involved so be sure it's done correctly. So, basically call our advisors to be sure you're doing things correctly!
The General Enrollment Period of Medicare
Let's say that you missed your IEP (initial enrollment period) and then missed what could have been your SEP (special enrollment period). You now must wait to enroll into Medicare during the General Enrollment Period (GEP).
The GEP is open annually from January 1 until March 31. When you enroll into Medicare during that window, your Part B coverage will start on July 1 of the same year.
You will often receive a penalty for late enrollment into Medicare in this case.
See sections regarding Medicare penalties.