When is the best time to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan? Can I sign up at any time? Is there a late enrollment penalty?
The number one mistake by folks who are new to Medicare is . . . not knowing WHEN to apply for coverage.
WHEN you enroll in Medicare A and B determines the best time to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan.
You have SIX MONTHS from the time your Part B coverage begins to enroll in a Medigap plan.
You have 63 days to enroll in a Medicare drug plan.
Go BEYOND those windows and you my not qualify for a Medigap plan.
You CAN get a Part D plan, but only during an open enrollment period, and you will pay a LIFETIME late enrollment penalty.
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Common Medicare Supplement Enrollment Mistakes
If you are approaching age 65 the Medicare maze can be intimidating. Even more so if you have been covered by employer group health insurance for most of your adult life. That’s about 70% of the aging in population.
You have Medicare questions. I have answers.
Self employed and others who bought their own health insurance plan have a leg up. At least they have been accustomed to “shopping the market” for coverage.
- You fail to understand the difference in Medicare Advantage vs Medigap
- Thinking Medicare supplement is different from Medigap
- Believing you can change plans at any time
- Believing you can only change during Open Enrollment
- You think Medigap carriers cannot reject you because of health issues
- You have been told your Medicare supplement plan can be cancelled if you get sick
- Thinking a carrier can single you out for a rate increase if you get sick
- Someone told you Medicare does not cover cancer treatment – and you BELIEVED them
- An insurance agent tells you Advantage plans are BETTER than original Medicare and Medigap – and you thought they were telling you the truth
- You didn’t know the insurance carrier can withdraw from your state at any time
- You failed to understand the consequences when Medigap carrier stops writing new business
But applying for Medicare is unlike anything you have done before. Trust me on that.
The best time to buy a Medicare supplement policy is during your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period. You generally will get better prices and more choices among policies. During that time you can buy any Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. – Medicare.gov
Medicare Enrollment Mistakes
Here are just a few of the mistakes I have seen over the last 10 years.
- Failure to apply for Medicare on a timely basis
- Assuming you will be automatically enrolled at age 65
- You think if you don’t apply at age 65 you will be penalized
- Believing you can sign up for Medicare at any time
- Covered by employer group health insurance AND Medicare
- Picking up COBRA after your group health plan ends
- You think COBRA is creditable coverage
- You fail to understand the signicance of Medicare Part B
- Thinking Medicare is only for those no longer employed
- You think you must have Social Security and Medicare
- If you have an HSA and want to continue making contributions, DON’T sign up for Medicare
If you fail to follow the Medicare enrollment rules you might miss an opportunity to get the kind of coverage you really want.
How to Correct Medicare Mistakes
Some enrollment mistakes can be corrected.
The cardinal rule about Medicare is, if you don’t KNOW for certain you are making the right move, don’t do anything.
If you are involuntarily losing employer group health insurance, and have health problems, but also have Medicare A and B you MAY still have options. With proper documentation of continuous creditable coverage you can get a Medicare supplement plan. Available plans are limited and insurance agents may not be willing to help you.
What is the BEST time to apply for Medicare?
Most folks will enroll in Medicare A & B at age 65. If you have access to employer group health insurance coverage beyond age 65, you could delay applying for either Part A, Part B or both. Should you miss your IEP (initial enrollment period) or SEP (involuntary loss of employer group plan) you can sign up during the GEP (General Election Period). The GEP starts January 1 and ends March 31. Coverage begins July 1 of that year and you pay a LIFETIME late enrollment penalty (LEP).
Do I HAVE to enroll in Medicare at age 65?
You can apply for Medicare during specified times according to your situation. Should you DELAY enrolling in Medicare at 65 you COULD have gaps in coverage, incur a lifetime late enrollment penalty, or both.
How much does Medicare cost per month?
If you have at least 40 quarters of substantial Social Security earnings, there generally is no premium for Medicare Part A. Your Medicare Part B premium is determined by the year when your B coverage is effective. High earners may be subject to IRMAA tax in addition to your regular Part B premium. Late enrollment penalties are another consideration that may or may not apply in your situation.
Do I need Social Security in addition to Medicare?
If you are already receiving Social Security, or have applied for benefits at age 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare when you turn 65. You may also sign up for Medicare at age 65 and delay your Social Security benefits until a later date.