It’s normal to have questions about how to enroll in Medicare. Enrollment can be confusing and overwhelming, but we are here to help make the process easy! Your Medicare enrollment experience should run smoothly with answers to some of the most asked Medicare and enrollment questions.
Medicare isn’t available to everyone, and you shouldn’t expect to be enrolled automatically. You are generally eligible to enroll in Medicare if:
You are 65 years or older; You are a United States citizen or a 5+ year permanent U.S. resident; You or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for a minimum of 10 years. You may be eligible to enroll if you are under 65 due to end stage renal disease (ESRD), ALS or if you have been collecting social security disability insurance for 24 months. Once you are enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you can then enroll in plans that offer additional benefits, such as a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance or Medicare Part D plan.
For the most part, Medicare enrollment can’t be done at just any time throughout the year. So, how do you know when to enroll in Medicare? There are specific windows when individuals are eligible to enroll in Medicare. These windows are called enrollment periods:
* Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): Your seven-month long Initial Enrollment Period includes the three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday, and the three months following your birthday.
* Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): The Annual Enrollment Period happens each year from October 15 to December 7. This is your primary opportunity to enroll in or switch Medicare Advantage plans after your Initial Enrollment Period has passed.
* Open Enrollment Period (OEP): The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period occurs from January 1 to March 31 each year. During this enrollment period, those who are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage may change or drop their Medicare Advantage plans a single time.
* Special Enrollment Periods (SEP): These Medicare enrollment periods are triggered by special circumstances and are typically two to three months long.
Medicare Advantage Plans are popular among a fast-growing segment of Medicare beneficiaries because they offer additional benefits that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not include. Medicare Advantage plans may offer vision, dental, fitness, wellness, and prescription drug coverage. Some plans may be available with $0 premiums, copays, and deductibles.Individuals who are interested in keeping Original Medicare may be interested in a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan, which offers supplemental coverage for copays, deductibles, and coinsurance on Medicare-covered services. You may also choose to add a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan—Part D—which offers coverage for prescription drugs only.
Wondering how to enroll in Medicare if you miss your Medicare enrollment period? The good news is that you likely still have options to obtain Medicare coverage. Missing an enrollment period can happen to anyone. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period and don’t have an SEP to enroll in Parts A and/or B, the General Enrollment Period occurs every year. The Annual Enrollment Period gives you a chance to enroll in or swap Medicare Advantage Plans. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allows beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans to swap plans.. If you missed all of these enrollment periods, you may have the opportunity to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period, depending on your circumstances.
Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to add or switch Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Insurance plans after their initial enrollment during three specific time periods throughout the year. Beneficiaries can drop their plans at any time.
1. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment (Jan 1-March 31): You can make a single plan change if you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
2. Annual Enrollment Period (Oct 15-Dec 7): You can change your Medicare coverage freely during this period.
3. Special Enrollment Period: If you qualify for a special circumstance, you may alter your Medicare coverage.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs each year from October 15 to December 7. What is the Annual Enrollment Period vs. Open Enrollment Period?
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your Initial Enrollment Period generally surrounds your 65th birthday but may occur if you otherwise become eligible for Medicare for the first time.
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