Medicare is a significant healthcare asset for many senior Americans requiring assistance with health insurance.
Those eligible for Medicare receive affordable health care to deal with various health issues that can crop up as we age. Medicare enrollment can offer peace of mind for yourself or other aging family members for whom you may be caring.
With the Medicare Open Enrollment Period for 2021 coverage just around the corner, the guide below will explain enrollment dates, tips for choosing a plan, and more.
For most individuals, Medicare eligibility begins when they turn 65. In this case, your first opportunity to enroll in Medicare is during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The initial enrollment period begins three months before the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and ends three months after.
If you miss your initial enrollment period and are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (more on that later), you can sign up for Part A and Part B during the General Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period runs annually between January 1 and March 31 each year.
For 2021 Medicare coverage, there are some important enrollment dates for you to be aware of.
The Open Enrollment Period for 2021 coverage will run from October 15, 2020, to December 7, 2020. This period is for those already enrolled in Medicare and allows beneficiaries to switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, join or cancel Part D plans, and switch Medicare Advantage plans.
If you join, switch, or cancel plans in the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, your new plan will come into effect on January 1, 2021.
For those who are yet to enroll in Original Medicare, you must wait for the General Enrollment Period that will run from January 1 to March 31, 2020. In this window, you can enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B if you didn’t sign up when first eligible.
If you enroll in Original Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage will begin on July 1, 2021.
As we have seen above, there are certain time windows in which you are supposed to enroll in Medicare. If you fail to do so, you will likely have to pay a small penalty for late enrollment; however, if you did not enroll due to special circumstances, you will be allowed to enroll without penalty.
Special Enrollment Periods occur when certain life-changing events happen. These events include everything from moving to an address out of your current plan’s service area to losing your current coverage. You can find the full list of special enrollment events here.
Once you are enrolled in Medicare, you don’t have to re-enroll or renew your Medicare plan every year. However, it is best practice to explore and compare plans frequently. By doing so, you ensure that you are enrolled in a plan that has the best coverage and premiums for your needs.
It is possible that your plan may be terminated, in which case you will get a non-renewal notice from your carrier before open enrollment. If you don’t, it means you can keep your plan without doing anything.
If you want to change your Medicare policy, though, you can do so during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7). This gives you the chance to change your plan or choose a different coverage option that meets your needs
During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP), you can review your coverage and make changes to your plans. It is possible to:
If you are registered within a Medicare Advantage plan, you have additional opportunities to re-evaluate your coverage.
Firstly, you can do so during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31). This period allows anyone within a Medicare Advantage plan to switch programs.
Your other option is the individualized Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. This window is only available to new Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in an MA plan during the first three months they have Medicare. In the three-month MA OEP you can:
If you are 65 or about to turn 65, have End-Stage Renal Disease, have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or qualify for disability, you can enroll in Medicare. Individuals interested in Medicare insurance need to be US citizens or legal, permanent residents for five years or more.
If you want to obtain Medicare coverage for 2021, you must remember when the open enrollment deadline is.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period 2021, also known as the Medicare OEP 2021, runs between October 15th, 2020, and December 7th, 2020. During this period, individuals who qualify for Medicare can renew or change Medicare policies.
For instance, if you have an Original Medicare plan but want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, you can do so during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Should you miss your Initial Enrollment Period as well as the Open Enrollment Period, you might have to pay a small penalty fee to obtain Medicare coverage.
Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) is a different way to receive Medicare benefits. Medicare Advantage plans offer at least the same coverage level as Original Medicare but are offered by private insurance companies.
In addition to offering standardized coverage, Medicare Advantage plans include options such as prescription drug coverage, vision and hearing coverage, dental coverage, and more. These plans are particularly beneficial for those who require additional health support for hearing, vision, dental, or prescription drug coverage.
Original Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (also known as the Fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period) that runs October 15-December 7.
If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to a different MA plan or want to revert to Original Medicare, you can do so during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31).
Medicare Part D is an optional plan available to all Medicare beneficiaries. The program provides prescription drug coverage and gives enrollees a discount on prescription medication.
During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15-December 7), you may:
Medigap insurance is supplemental insurance that can help people obtain more health insurance coverage for medical problems. Medicare Supplement plans (Medigap) covering a portion of the expenses not included by Original Medicare.
Medigap can be a good insurance policy option for people who need a little more help with the financial side of health insurance, in addition to closing health insurance coverage gaps they may have.
The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period (when you turn 65). During this window, you will get better prices and a wider choice among policies. Even if you have existing health conditions, insurers cannot refuse coverage or charge you a higher premium.
If you miss the initial window, Medicare beneficiaries can apply for Medigap coverage during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (October 15th and December 7th). However, if you apply for Medigap coverage after your initial Medigap Open Enrollment Period, there’s no guarantee you will be accepted if you don’t meet the medical requirements.
If you are turning 65, you may be eligible to enroll in Original Medicare.
You can enroll in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday and up to four months afterward (for a total of a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period). This is called your Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP. This is different from the annual enrollment period, or open enrollment, which occurs at the same time every year.
If you miss your initial seven-month enrollment period, you can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during the General Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31) each year. You can use this enrollment period if you:
In most cases, if you sign up for Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period, you will be required to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B. This makes it imperative for individuals to enroll when they are first eligible (during the Initial Enrollment Period).
If you receive benefits from social security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, which is Medicare Parts A and B, the same month you turn 65.
If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period (a seven-month window that begins three months before your 65th birthday), you can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during the General Enrollment Period.
The General Enrollment Period runs between January 1 and March 31 annually. If you enroll in Medicare during this period, you will be required to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B.
If you are under 65 and have Medicare, you may not have access to Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap). Insurers are not required by law to offer Medigap to beneficiaries aged under 65. However, some states (Colorado, Illinois, New York, and more) offer certain Medigap plans to those under 65 with disabilities or certain conditions.
The minimum age to receive Medicare Supplement Insurance will depend on your specific state.
Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan) during the Open Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7). You can change plans as many times as you like, but your final choice will take effect on January 1.
For an accurate estimate of Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap plans, and Medicare Part D plans in your area, use our free quote tool. Simply enter your zip code, and browse dozens of plans in your area.
If you require more information about Medicare plans and your options, speak to one of our licensed agents today at 1-844-236-0228.