Medicare Deadlines: The Price of Waiting

Medicare is strict about deadlines; if you enroll late, you face penalties. Here are the optimal sign-up times for Part B, Part D, and Medigap.

from Instant Medicare Answers
Medicare Deadlines© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you fail to enroll for some Medicare plans—Part B, Part D, and Medigap—during the designated time periods, you not only pay penalties, but also have your coverage delayed. Here are the optimal sign-up times for these plans.

  • Part B
    Sign up during the three months before you turn 65 so coverage begins on your 65th birthday. Waiting to sign up in the month of your 65th birthday or the following three months will delay the start of your coverage for one to three months. You can also sign up for Part B between January 1 and March 31 of each year, but your coverage will begin in July and your monthly premiums could be 10 percent higher for every 12 months you delayed. (You won’t be penalized, though, if you sign up late because you have other health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s.)
  • Part D
    Sign up when you’re first eligible for Medicare—during the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, or the three months after— or within 63 days of stopping another Medicare, employer, or retiree drug plan. Waiting will result in higher premiums— an extra 32 cents for every month you went without coverage.
  • Medigap
    You have a six-month open enrollment period starting the month you’re 65 or older and first enrolled in Part B. You’ve got a guaranteed right to buy any Medigap policy sold in your state during this time; after that deadline, you could be turned down or face higher premiums.

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  • Your Comments

    • Anonymous

      President Obama wins again! 
      President Obama wins again! And so do the insured! Here’s a synopsis of what I like:Here’s what TEA-GOP-Republican are fighting, backing the mega-insurers against the American public:Ready for another round of stimulus? This time, it’s courtesy of the insurance industry — though Uncle Sam is forcing the payouts. 
      Millions of Americans stand to receive insurance company rebates by the end of the summer, as a result of a new requirement in the federal health care overhaul that strictly governs how insurers spend their cash. 
      The insurance industry, along with a slew of state officials, have been fighting the policy. Based on rules that were issued at the end of last year, Washington will require insurers to spend between 80 and 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care. Insurance companies that violate the rule will be required to effectively refund their customers.

      Here’s how the new system works: Starting in 2011, insurers were supposed to abide by the new rules. They require insurers in the individual and small group market to keep administrative costs to 20 percent, and to just 15 percent in the large group market. If they don’t, they’re supposed to send out a round of rebates by Aug. 1 of this year. That rebate could take the form of a check or credit card payment, or a reduction in premiums — the rebates will either be distributed to individuals or employers depending on the plan.
      Foremost, they say the sudden implementation could force some health plans out of the market. Plus, because the Obama administration requires companies to hold down administrative costs, advisers who act as policy brokers to help connect plans with customers could be cut out of the system. Zirkelbach said the new rules could also force insurers to cut down on fraud prevention activities and prevent them investing money in innovation.