Navigating Medicare Enrollment
In order to ensure you have the right Medicare coverage plan, it is important to understand your enrollment period. Having the right coverage can help you reduce coverage gaps, long waiting periods, and expensive out of pocket costs. Generally speaking, most people are eligible to enroll in Medicare benefits three months before the month of their 65th birthday and enrollment closes at the end of the third month after the 65th birthday month. This is known as the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). If you are a Medicare eligible person, it is your responsibility to enroll in Medicare coverage. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B.
Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) are the windows of opportunity to enroll in Medicare or elect different Medicare plans outside the IEP. There are different categories of SEP. For example, individuals may be eligible for SEP if their coverage is from an employer group plan that meets specific Medicare standards. In this instance, the SEP lasts for eight months after the employment coverage ends. It is important to note, that if your employer-sponsored health plan is smaller than 20 people, Medicare Parts A & B must be primary and cover 80% of costs. The employer plan only covers 20%, therefore, in these cases, you may be better off leaving the employer plan and signing up for Medicare Part D and a supplemental plan.