Medicare Enrollment Periods: When should you sign up?

Eligibility for coverage starts at age 65. Expect your red, white, and blue Medicare card to be mailed three months before your 65th birthday. This will be mailed with instructions to enroll. Others who qualify for Medicare include those with chronic conditions.

Initial Enrollment

You are expected to enroll for Medicare during Initial Enrollment, which begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday. Enrollment extends three months after your birthday month, for a total of seven months.

Special Enrollment

People who are still getting health coverage through their employer can use a Special Enrollment Period. The Special Enrollment Period lasts eight months and starts the month after employment or the employee health coverage ends.

Late Enrollment Penalties

If you don’t enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31. However, you will have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

For Part A, the late enrollment penalty will add 10% to your monthly premium. The higher premium will last for twice the number of years that you failed to enroll. Many people qualify for premium-free Part A, so this may not apply.

If you buy Part B, the late enrollment penalty adds 10% of the standard premium rate for each 12-month period you went without signing up. This lasts as long as you hold Part B coverage. The standard premium rate is $144.60.

If you don’t buy Part D when you initially enroll, you may have to pay a late enrollment fee when you later decide to get Part D. While you have creditable coverage, you do not have to have Part D. If you don’t have creditable coverage for 63 or more days before you enroll in Part D, you may have to pay a late enrollment fee.

If you choose not to enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) or Medicare Part D, you will not have to pay a late penalty toward either.

For all of your Medicare questions, speak with Turning 65 Solutions.

Turning 65 Solutions can help you plan for the future.