Medical expenses for seniors can escalate quickly and could leave you with mountains of debt. If you are over 65 years old and eligible, Medicare coverage can help you protect your health and finances. A lack of understanding of how Medicare enrollment works can lead to a loss of insurance benefits or increased expenditure. Here are various ways through which you can avail of Medicare coverage.
Open Enrollment Period
The open enrollment period for Medicare includes a seven-month window – the month you turn 65, three months before and three months after. An open enrollment period also allows seniors to sign up for Medicare if they did not sign up at 65. This period extends from January 1 to March 31 each year, and the coverage commences from July 1.
Special Enrolment Period
If an employer’s health plan covers you at 65, and you have only signed up for Medicare Part A, you can still enroll for part B at a later date. On retirement, you have a period of eight months to sign up for Part B. This period starts at the end of your employer’s health insurance plan or at the end of retirement, whichever is earlier. Enrolling later can lead to increases in your annual premiums and gaps in your coverage.
If you already receive benefits from the Railroad Retirement system or Social Security benefits, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A and B when you turn 65. Automatic signup allows you access to Part A premium-free. If your employer offers non-Medicare medical coverage, then you have the option to skip the Part B coverage.
In some cases, individuals with disabilities who have not completed 65 years of age are eligible to sign up for Original Medicare along with a Medicare Advantage plan.
The general enrollment period between January 1 and March 31 allows you to apply for initial enrollment for part B if you have already signed up for Part A.
Speaking with your financial advisor and doctor can help you when starting with Medicare. Plans differ depending on the coverage you choose, and signing up within the enrollment periods can help you save on annual premiums and fees.