The Medicare open enrollment period for 2016 starts today, October 15th. This open enrollment period ends December 7th, so if you didn’t enroll in Medicare during the initial enrollment period or you want to make changes to your current plan, now is the time to do so. Here’s what you need to know about enrolling in Medicare.
New to Medicare
If you are turning 65 and have worked for at least 10 years (during which time you paid Medicare taxes), you will be eligible to enroll in Medicare. Additionally, if you are receiving Social Security disability income, you will be able to enroll in Medicare. You may also qualify for Medicare if you have been diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (also referred to as kidney failure) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
Receiving Medicare Automatically
You may qualify for Medicare and be automatically enrolled if one of the following applies:
- Already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
- Receiving benefits from Social Security due to a disability
- Have Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll get your red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail 3 months before your 65th birthday, or during your 25th month of disability. If you are diagnosed with ALS, you’ll automatically get Medicare Parts A and B the month your disability benefits begin.
Enrolling in Medicare
Not everyone is automatically enrolled in Medicare. For example, you may need to enroll yourself if:
- You aren’t currently receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) (for example, because you’re still working)
- You have End-Stage Renal Disease (Kidney Failure)
You can join Medicare Parts A, B and D during your Initial Enrollment Period. This is the seven-month window surrounding the month of your 65th birthday, starting 3 months before your birth month and ending 3 months afterwards.
Other Medicare enrollment periods if you enroll after you turn 65 include:
- Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B: If you’ve been covered by insurance through a current job (or a spouse’s current job), you can enroll in Medicare Parts A and B up to eight months after the job or the insurance ends.
- Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D: If you’ve had prescription drug coverage through a current job (or a spouse’s current job) and it was creditable coverage, you can enroll in Medicare Part D up to 63 days after the job or insurance ends.
- General Medicare Open Enrollment Period: Annual General Medicare Open Enrollment starts today, October 15th and ends December 7th this year. If you enroll at this time, your coverage will start Jan. 1, but you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty if you were eligible to enroll in Medicare previously. Because of this, it is generally advised to enroll in Medicare as soon as you are eligible.
If you are nearing or already 65 and would like more information on Medicare Plans in Washington State, please visit our Overview of Medicare, as well as our guide for those who are New to Medicare. For assistance in choosing a Medicare plan, contact us to get in touch with a licensed insurance agent today!