Medicare: Two Important Enrollment Periods

Medicare: Two Important Enrollment Periods

With Open Enrollment behind us, many Medicare beneficiaries that are on a Medicare Advantage plan are unaware of the annual Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.

From January 1st to February 14th beneficiaries who wish to dis-enroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare are allowed to. They can purchase a Medicare prescription drug plan and a Medicare supplemental plan to round out their Medicare coverage and fully protect themselves. Adding the Medicare prescription drug plan is a guaranteed right, but enrollment in a Medicare supplemental plan is not guaranteed unless certain criteria is met. If an individual does not meet the guaranteed issue criteria, then underwriting is involved. Sometimes someone doesn’t qualify right away for a Medicare Supplemental plan, and they may need to wait to add it until they do. Once someone is on Original Medicare, a supplemental plan can be added anytime in the year.

The second important enrollment period is the Medicare General Enrollment Period and it occurs annually between January 1st and March 31st, with coverage starting July 1st.

This is an important window of time for those that didn’t activate their Part B portion of Medicare during their Initial Enrollment Period, or had Part B activated but then lost it for some reason. The first of the two scenarios is happening more frequently as the age requirement for receiving Social Security increases. Many people are still under the impression that they are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B when they turn 65. But that only happens if they started taking Social Security at age 62. (Enrollment in Part A still happens automatically at 65 and has no premium for the majority of our population) The second scenario; dropping Part B during the year, generally happens because someone forgets to pay their premium for Part B (if they’re not yet taking Social Security, they get billed for it)

In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty for the rest of you life (there are exemptions for some low-income cases) The LEP for Part B may go up to 10% more than the standard premium ($134 a month) for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it.

Stephanie Frisch

Stephanie Frisch is the owner of Insurance 101 and is an independent insurance broker dedicated to helping others make “educated decisions” about their insurance choices when it comes to Medicare, Long-Term Care Planning, The Health Insurance Marketplace-Covered California and Life Insurance. For answers to your questions, or an in-home, no-fee consultation, call (949) 351-2443.