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How to Complete Your Medicare Enrollment and Avoid Penalties

medicare-enrollment-penalties

Did you know you could be subject to penalties if you don’t complete Medicare enrollment during your Initial Enrollment Period? It’s true. Read on to find out which enrollments you need to complete and how to avoid the penalties.

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a seven-month period triggered by your 65th birthday. It includes the month of your birthday, as well as three months both before and after. For example, an individual who turns 65 in April will have a Medicare Initial Enrollment Period from January through July.

This Medicare enrollment period is when you can join Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare), as well as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D), which are offered by private insurance companies.

There can be penalties for not joining Medicare Part B and not getting prescription drug coverage during your Initial Enrollment Period.

Part B Late Enrollment Penalty

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can only enroll during the Medicare General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31 each year. Part B coverage after General Enrollment begins July 1 of that year. The late enrollment fee will be applied to your Part B premiums for the entirety of your time on Part B. The penalty is typically a 10% increase of the premium for each 12-month period you don’t have coverage.

Part D Late Enrollment Penalty

The Part D fee penalizes you for going without prescription drug coverage after your Initial Enrollment Period. Your options for enrolling in prescription drug coverage include a Part D Plan, a Medicare Advantage Plan, or any plan that offers comparable prescription drug coverage.

If you’re without prescription drug coverage for 63 days or more after your Initial Enrollment Period, your Part D premiums increase by 1% for each month you’re without coverage. You’ll typically continue to pay this fee for the rest of the time you have a Medicare prescription drug plan.

How to Avoid Medicare Enrollment Penalties

You can avoid the Part B penalty by enrolling in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period. If you’re receiving Social Security benefits before your Initial Enrollment Period, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. Otherwise, you’ll need to enroll through the Social Security Administration.

To avoid the Part D penalty, you’ll likely need to join a Part C or D Plan, unless you have special circumstances. Part D Plans only cover prescription drugs, while Part C (Medicare Advantage) Plans include coverage for Parts A and B, and typically have additional benefits like vision, dental, hearing, fitness, and wellness.

You can find, compare, and enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans using our convenient Medicare Online Enrollment Portal, accessible 24/7.

You can also contact our Medicare Advocates via phone to learn more about Medicare plans in your area, and for assistance with enrolling in a plan. For your no-cost consultation, call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday to Friday.