Just a quick post today, but one that could be important to you if you were previously eligible to sign-up for Medicare, but missed your Initial Enrollment window when you turned 65, and you are not still covered by an employer sponsored health plan.
What am I talking about? General Enrollment for Medicare.
I am bringing it up because beyond the Initial Enrollment period that everyone is eligible for when you turn 65 (and three months before or after), everyone also has another window during which you can sign-up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B. This window occurs every year between January 1st and March 31st, with coverage beginning on July 1st of that year.
This extra enrollment period is available to everyone, but does not impact whether you pay a late enrollment penalty or not. That is determined based on whether you meet other requirements, such as when you were first eligible and whether you were covered by an employer sponsored health plan at that point. The penalty is incurred for a period twice as long as the time that has passed since you could have signed-up, so be aware.
As a quick reminder, the three primary enrollment periods are:
- Initial Enrollment – 3 months before, 3 months after, and during the month you turn 65
- General Enrollment – Jan 1 – Mar 31 each year (if you didn’t sign-up when 1st eligible)
- Special Enrollment – while still covered by an employer health plan (yours or your spouse’s), or within 8 months after employment / coverage ends
If you’d like to learn a little more detail about the enrollment periods, see this page. If you’re not sure whether you are eligible or not, or whether the General Enrollment period is something that applies to you, check it out soon, because the window for this year closes this Sunday, and, if you miss this window, your next General Enrollment window won’t be open again until next January 1st, and your coverage wouldn’t start until July 1st of the year you enrolled.