Time To Straighten Out Five Costly Misconceptions About The Medicare Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is in full swing. From October 15 through December 7 every year, Medicare beneficiaries have the chance to review their drug and Medicare Advantage plans. During this time, they can also add or drop Part D prescription drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plans, and switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa.

As with most things in life, there are several misconceptions about what you can do during this time. Here are five that I have heard more than once.

1. I turn 65 on December 2 and just found out that I must get all my Medicare applications done by December 7.

The Open Enrollment Period is for those already enrolled in Medicare.

The Initial Enrollment Period is for those who are turning 65. This is a seven-month period that begins three months before the birth month and ends three months after. (For those born on the first of the month, the period extends from four months before to two months after the birth month.)

This individual has until March 31 to finish the enrollment process.

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2. My Initial Enrollment Period ended December 31, 2021, and I didn’t enroll. I plan to apply before the end of the Open Enrollment Period.

For those who miss their initial chance to enroll, the General Enrollment Period, January 1-March 31, applies. Medicare takes effect the first day of the month after enrolling.

In this case, he’ll pay a Part B late enrollment penalty. The penalty applies after 12 full months without Part B. It is 10% of the standard Part B penalty for every full year. Next year, he will pay an additional $16.49 every month for Part B.

3. I recently retired, enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, and need to get a Medicare supplement plan. Social Security told me I must do that by December 7, the end of Open Enrollment.

The December 7 deadline applies only to Part D drug and Medicare Advantage plans.

In this situation, the Medigap Open Enrollment Period applies. This is a six-month period that begins with the date Part B, medical insurance, takes effect. This individual will have a guaranteed issue right to get the policy of her choice. The insurance company cannot deny the application or raise premiums because of pre-existing conditions.

4. I need help during the Open Enrollment Period because I want to get a different Medicare supplement plan.

As noted in the previous question, this period applies to Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.

This beneficiary can apply for a new Medigap policy at any time during the year. However, depending on the situation, he may have to pass medical underwriting to get a new policy.

5. I turned 65 in April. I need to figure out how to renew my Medicare.

Once enrolled in Part A and Part B and the necessary premiums are paid, Medicare is set for life. There is no renewal process.

Falling for a misconception can result in mistakes that can be costly and/or jeopardize coverage. Know what you need to do and when you can do it. Most important: Get the facts before you act.

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