Are you enrolled in Medicare? If so, it’s time to revisit your plan. That’s right, the Medicare enrollment period is underway. If you’re a current Medicare beneficiary, it’s time to review your current plan, re-enroll, or find a different plan that better meets your needs.
What is Medicare Enrollment?
The Medicare enrollment period comes around once a year, usually from October 15 to December 7. This open enrollment period is for those who are already enrolled in a Medicare plan.
If you’re a member, you should receive an “Annual Notice of Change” letting you know about any changes to your current plan for the coming year. If your current plan still meets your needs, you don’t need to do anything. If you do want to switch plans, this enrollment period is the time to do it.
If you’re not a current member of Medicare, you’ll have to wait until January to enroll (or until your qualifying enrollment period).
Types of Enrollment:
There are a lot of myths out there about Medicare enrollment periods. But the truth is that Medicare acts like most insurance plans: You can’t sign up until open enrollment begins or unless you have a life event that makes you eligible. Here are the types of Medicare enrollment periods and what they entail:
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):
Medicare’s initial enrollment period is for those who are turning 65. The IEP begins three months before your birthday and continues the month of your birthday and the three months following. If you request to join Medicare before you turn 65, your coverage will begin the day of your birthday. If you request to join after, your plan will begin the first day of the next month.
General Enrollment Period (GEP):
If you missed the initial enrollment period, you can still sign up for a Medicare plan. The general enrollment period runs from January 1 through March 31 of each year. Just remember: Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you enroll.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period:
Open enrollment is only for Medicare beneficiaries to re-enroll in their plans beginning the middle of October and running through early December of each year. When you re-enroll on your current plan, your coverage will continue as usual. If you decide to switch plans, your new coverage will begin on January 1 of the new year.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP):
This period of enrollment is for special circumstances. If you moved, had a change in your insurance (if you were on your spouse’s insurance), or joined Medicaid, you can enroll during the SEP. See Medicare.gov for more info on qualifying circumstances.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP):
If you’re interested in enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan, open enrollment begins every January and runs through March 31 of each year. This enrollment period is only for those who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Type A or B plan and want to enroll in an Advantage plan, you can do that within three months of enrolling in Medicare.
What Types of Plans Are There?
There are two types of Medicare coverage: Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare includes hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B). Medicare Advantage (Part C) is usually offered by a private insurance company and includes a bunded plan of both Part A and B along with Part D (drug coverage). If you need even more coverage, Medicare offers a supplemental coverage plan called Medigap. Visit the Medicare website for more information on types of plans and what each plan covers.
Looking for help deciding which plan works best for you before the Medicare enrollment period ends? The State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help. They can offer you free and unbiased advice on which Medicare plan may work best for you. Just be careful, there are many fraudulent companies out there who offer “help” in exchange for your personal information. Remember: Medicare will never call you to ask for your personal information.
If you need help discerning which plan could be right for you and your financial situation, we can help. Contact a SageSpring Wealth Advisor today.