The clock is ticking…and now you’re close to your 65th birthday. And all you know is that your friends at this age have already signed up for Medicare. How do you start the process? When should you apply? All fantastic questions and the good news is, we’re here to help you!
Basically, Medicare coverage starts based on when you sign up and which sign-up period you’re in. Your first chance to sign up is during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). It lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65. If you miss your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The penalty goes up the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you have to pay a Part A premium (Premium-Part A).
When Coverage Starts
The date coverage starts depends on which month you sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period. Coverage always starts on the first of the month.
If you qualify for Premium-free Part A: your Part A coverage starts the month you turn 65. If your birthday is on the first of the month, coverage starts the month you turn 65.
For Part B (and Premium-Part A), coverage starts based on the month you sign up.
Here’s a quick sheet showing coverage start dates based on when you sign up:
|If you sign up:||Coverage Starts|
|Before the month you turn 65||The month you turn 65|
|The month you turn 65||The next month|
|1 month after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
|2 or 3 months after you turn 65||3 months after you sign up|
You can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Your Part A coverage starts 6 months back from when you sign up or when you apply for benefits from Social Security. Coverage cannot start earlier than the month you turned 65. After your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you can only sign up for Part B and Premium-Part A during one of the other enrollment periods.
General Enrollment Period
You can sign up between January 1-March 31 each year. This is called the General Enrollment Period. Coverage would start July 1st. You may pay a monthly late enrollment penalty if you don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Special Enrollment Period
There are certain situation when you can sign up for Part B (and Premium-Part A) during a Special Enrollment Period without paying a late enrollment penalty. A Special enrollment Period is only available for a limited time. If you don’t sign up during your Special Enrollment Period, you’ll have to wait for the next General Enrollment Period and you may have to pay a monthly late enrollment penalty. Generally, coverage starts the month after you sign up.
What’s a special situation that would qualify for a Special Enrollment Period?
- You have health insurance through a job and are still working
- You can sign up for Part A and Part B any time as long as:
- You have group health plan coverage
- You or spouse is working for the employer that provides your health coverage.
You also have 8 months to sign up after you or your spouse stop working or you lose group health plan coverage.
- You’re a volunteer, serving in a foreign country
- Certain situations for those with TRICARE
Do you have more questions about Medicare? Give our agents a call — we are the number one health insurance and Medicare Agency in Coral Springs and Parkland! Our team walks you through each step of the Medicare process, makes sure you understand each item, and takes the hassle of Medicare out of your hands. We’re ready and waiting to help!