The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. The Medicare Annual Enrollment period allows existing Medicare enrollees to make changes to their coverage.
Any changes made during the 2022 Medicare enrollment period will affect your 2023 plan, beginning January 1, 2023.
During the Medicare Annual Enrollment period you can change Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part D plans, you may also switch between plan types and add prescription drug benefits.
This period of time is important in making sure that you have the health benefits you need for the upcoming year.
Before making changes to your current Medicare plan or adding prescription drug benefits, you will want to ask yourself the following questions:
Each year, the availability and cost of Medicare plans change.
Reviewing your Medicare plan options annually ensures you get the best deal and the best coverage. Keeping your current coverage is an option as well and your Annual Notice of Changes will tell you how your current plan is changing for the new year.
Depending on if your medical situation has changed, updating your policy can help you save money in the long run.
An important step in comparing plans would be to look at the total cost of healthcare and insurance. For instance, if you expect to need significant medical or dental care in the upcoming year, a more expensive Medicare Advantage plan with better coverage can reduce your total health care spending.
During the Annual Open Enrollment period, you have the option of switching to a policy that has better coverage for the medications you need. You may be able to change Medicare plan companies and have access to different formulary which will improve your benefits.
If you’re unhappy with Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage you can switch to a different plan during open enrollment.
Medicare Advantage plans include more benefits for prescription drug coverage, dental vision, hearing aids, and more.
People age 65 or older are automatically enrolled in Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) and Medical Insurance (Part B). If you don’t receive Social Security benefits and are not ready to apply for them yet, you should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday (IEP), you’ll have a seven-month window of time to sign up for benefits.
You pay a premium for Part B coverage which you can turn down, however, if you decide to sign up for Part B later, your coverage can be delayed.
To apply for Medicare benefits you can fill out an online application at www.secure.ssa.gov. Here are a few tips to consider when signing up:
Once you’ve gathered all of the necessary items to enroll, you will then click on “Apply for Benefits” and follow the prompts on the screen.
After applying for Medicare benefits you will be mailed a “Welcome Package” within 2 weeks of signing up.
If you receive Medicare automatically based on disability, you’ll get this package about 2 weeks after Social Security approves your benefits. Your “Welcome Package” will include your Medicare card (Part A and Part B) showing when your coverage starts.
If you sign up for Medicare Part B at a later time and aren’t eligible for the Special Enrollment Period, you’ll pay 10% more for each full 12-month period you could’ve had Medicare Part B coverage but didn’t take it. You will have to pay this late enrollment penalty each time you pay your premiums, for as long as you have Medicare Part B coverage. Note: The penalty increases the longer you go without Medicare Part B coverage.
Now if you’re already signed up for Medicare Part B you don’t need to do anything. You will automatically be deducted a premium for Medicare Part B from your monthly Social Security or Civil Service benefit payments.
If your benefits aren’t enough to cover your premium, and you don’t get benefits, you’ll be billed for your Medicare Part B premium every 3 months. If you don’t want Medicare Part B coverage now you can sign up at a later time, however, you may have to wait for your coverage to start and pay a monthly penalty.
Another thing to think about when signing up for Medicare Part B is purchasing Medicare Supplement Insurance from private insurance companies to help you pay your out-of-pocket costs.
In addition, you’ll have the option of adding a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, and Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) which are Medicare-approved plans from private companies that bundle your Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B coverage, and usually drug coverage (Medicare Part D). Some of the plans offer extra benefits like vision, hearing, and dental services.
If you don’t have prescription drug coverage on your Medicare plan, or the coverage you have isn’t at least as good as Medicare drug coverage (creditable coverage), you should consider signing up for a Medicare Part D plan. Your plan will tell you each year if your drug coverage is creditable coverage.
If you want Medicare drug coverage, you can join a Medicare drug coverage plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage.
You have up to 3 months after your Medicare coverage starts to join a Medicare Part D plan. If you don’t sign up for Medicare drug coverage when you’re first eligible for Medicare, and you don’t have a creditable prescription drug plan, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
If you join at a later time, you’ll pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare drug coverage. The longer you wait to join the penalty goes up.
Original Medicare pays much, but not all of the cost for covered health care or supplies. If you decide to enroll in an Original Medicare plan, you may be able to buy a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap) from a Private Insurance company which will help pay out of pocket costs in Original Medicare.
Medigap cover can cover costs such as coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. Medigap offers coverage for services Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as medical care when you travel outside of the U.S. However they generally don’t cover long-term care (care in a nursing home), vision, dental, hearing aids, private-duty nursing, or prescription drugs.
For questions and inquiries about signing up for Medicare visit socialsecurity.gov, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
Shelia Benson was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She comes from a family of insurance professionals and has 12 years of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed agent and is also certified in Medicare. It's her passion to be of service to consumers turning 65 or coming onto Medicare for the first time. During her free time, she loves to spend time with family and her dog, working out, hiking, trying out new restaurants, and going to concerts. Shelia's goal is to educate the Medicare eligible about how Medicare works.
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