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When enrolling in Medicare, timing is critical. Most people enroll in Medicare around their 65th birthday. But the best time for you to sign up for Medicare may be more complicated than that. Here are the things you need to know about the best time to enroll in Medicare.

Best Time to Get Medicare to Avoid Late-Enrollment Penalties

The best time to sign up for Medicare is during the Initial Enrollment Period, which is a 7-month timeframe – from 3 months before your 65th birthday, the month you turn 65, and 3 months after the month you turn 65. During the Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B), sign up for a standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you don’t enroll in an Original Medicare or Medicare Part D when you are first eligible, you could be subject to late enrollment penalties in the form of higher monthly premiums. However, suppose you are still working and have a creditable health insurance plan. In that case, it is possible to delay your enrollment and not face late enrollment penalties. 

Getting Medicare for the First Time During the General Enrollment Period

Suppose you delay enrolling in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period. In that case, you get another chance to sign up during the General Enrollment Period, starting from January 1 to March 31. However, when you enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, you will still have to pay late enrollment penalties.

Medicare’s Special Enrollment Period

Certain life events can come up that allow you to enroll or change your Medicare plan. Some people may qualify for the Special Enrollment Period, during which they can apply for Medicare coverage outside of their Initial Enrollment Period. If you, your spouse, or your family member is still working, and you have creditable health insurance, you’ll be included in the Special Enrollment Period. Following the month that your creditable health insurance plan ends, you’ll have eight months to sign up for Original Medicare.

The Consequences of Missing an Enrollment Deadline

If you miss the deadline for enrolling in a Medicare plan and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you’ll be subject to a late enrollment period:

  • Deciding not to sign up for Medicare Part A during the Initial Enrollment Period can result in a premium increase of about 10%, and you will have to pay that penalty for twice the number of years you decided not to sign up for Medicare Part A even though you were eligible.
  • If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B during the Initial Enrollment Period, your premium will increase 10% for each 12-month period that you could have enrolled in Medicare Part B but didn’t.
  • Deciding not to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan as soon as you are eligible can also lead to a late enrollment penalty. The calculation for this penalty is a bit more complicated than the other penalties for the other parts of Medicare. For Part D, the penalty is calculated by multiplying 1% of the Part D premium by the number of months you didn’t have Part D. This amount is rounded to the nearest $0.10 and added to your premium.

For more information about the best time to sign up for Medicare, contact Vic 4 Insurance today.