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Key Medicare deadlines

Medicare Part A – Hospital coverage

  • Seven-month signup period. Starts three months before the month you turn 65. Ends three months after the month you turn 65.
  • Part A is premium-free for most people.
  • If you are late, there is no penalty for Part A if you are eligible for premium-free coverage.

Medicare Part B – Doctor/outpatient coverage

  • Seven-month signup period. Starts three months before the month you turn 65. Ends three months after the month you turn 65.
    or
    If you qualify to delay Part B because you or a spouse is currently actively working and have coverage, your deadline is eight months after work ends or your active work coverage ends, whichever happens first.
  • Part B has a monthly premium. Visit your local Social Security office if you are 65 and plan to delay Part B coverage. COBRA is not qualifying coverage for delaying Part B.
  • If you miss the enrollment deadline, the next signup opportunity is the General Enrollment Period (January to March each year). Coverage doesn’t start until July 1. Part B premium increases 10 percent each 12 months delayed. Penalty lasts as long as you have Medicare. No penalty if you qualify for Medicare Savings Program.

Medigap Supplement Open Enrollment

  • Six-month open enrollment period starts the day your Part B starts.
  • You must have Original Medicare Parts A and B.
  • If you are late, you can be turned down or be charged a higher premium.

Part C – Medicare Advantage plans

  • Seven-month signup period. Starts three months before the month you turn 65. Ends three months after the month you turn 65.
  • You need to be signed up for Parts A and B to enroll. Can’t use Medicare Advantage with Medigap.
  • If you are late, you may have to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7) to sign up. Coverage begins Jan. 1.

Part D – Prescription drug coverage

  • Seven-month signup period. Starts three months before the month you turn 65. Ends three months after the month you turn 65. If you delay Part D because you already have qualifying drug coverage, you have 60 days (not eight months as with Part B) to buy a Part D plan once you are no longer covered by that insurance.
  • You need only Part A or B (you can also have both) to enroll in a prescription drug plan. To avoid penalty situation, you must have Part D plan or other qualifying coverage.
  • If you are late, the penalty for each month enrollment was delayed is 1 percent of average national monthly premium. Example: If delayed 18 months, penalty is 18 percent of average national premium. You may have to wait for Annual Enrollment Period to enroll. The enrollment period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Coverage begins Jan. 1. There is no penalty or delay if you qualify for Extra Help limited-income assistance.

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