I got a call from a woman who is turning 65 in March. She said her friend told her she has to sign up for Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan before December 7th. That is the end of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Her friend is wrong.
A person turning 65 has an initial enrollment period (IEP) that begins three months before she turns 65 and ends three months after the month in which she turns 65. So this woman’s IEP runs from December through June. Most people will enroll in Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan before their Medicare begins, so it is set up and ready to go on the first day of the month in which they turn 65.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7) is for people who already have Medicare Advantage, or Part D, or just Medicare.
**If a person has Medicare now, but never signed up for Part D, or a Medicare Advantage plan, this is the time of year when they can enroll in this type of coverage. However, that person will have a penalty for not enrolling in Part D when they first turned 65, and that will increase their Part D cost.
**If a person has Medicare plus a supplement (medigap) plus Part D, they can opt to drop their supplement and enroll in Medicare Advantage plan with Part D (MAPD).
**If a person wants to change from his Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan, now is the time to do that. The new plan would take effect on January 1st.
I have also worked with many people who continued working after they turned 65, and those people do not have to worry about the Open Enrollment Period. They get a “Special Enrollment Period” when they start their Part B of Medicare – but they don’t get as much time to sign up for Medicare Advantage or Part D. They need to plan ahead so their Advantage plan or Part D will begin right when their Medicare Part B starts.
So many rules…. so many choices….. so confusing! This is why people need to work with a knowledgeable insurance broker.
Here is a short Introduction to Your Medicare Choices.