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Key Medicare deadlines

Turning 65 and need help with Medicare?

We are here to help you understand Medicare before you turn 65. Are you still working? Do you plan on delaying Social Security benefits? You still need to know about Medicare to avoid penalties.

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. You may qualify to delay enrolling in Part B if you or a spouse is currently working and have coverage. If so, your deadline is eight months after work ends or your active work coverage ends, whichever happens first. 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. This is January through March every year, but coverage doesn't start until July 1.
  • Part B has a monthly premium. Part B premium increases 10 percent each 12 months you delay enrolling. The penalty lasts as long as you have Medicare. You will not have a penalty if you qualify for the Medicare Savings Program.

Medigap Supplement plans

  • Six-month open enrollment period starts the day your Part B starts.
  • You must have both Original Medicare Parts A and B.
  • If you miss your initial open enrollment period, the plan can charge you a higher premium or refuse to cover you.
  • Learn more about Medigap here.

Part C – Medicare Advantage plans

  • Seven-month signup period starts three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65.
  • You must have both Original Medicare Parts A and B to enroll. You can not enroll in both a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medigap plan.
  • If you miss your initial enrollment period, 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 and ends three months after the month you turn 65. You can delay enrolling in Part D if you already have qualifying drug coverage. Once that coverage is no longer available, you have 60 days to buy a Part D plan.
  • If you do not enroll when you are first eligible, you may have to wait for the annual enrollment period to enroll. This enrollment period is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and coverage will begin Jan. 1.
  • You must be enrolled in only Part A or B, but you can also have both, to enroll in a Part D plan.
  • To avoid a late-enrollment penalty, you must have a Part D plan or other qualifying coverage. The late-enrollment penalty for each month enrollment was delayed is 1 percent of the average national monthly premium. For example, if enrollment is delayed 18 months, the penalty is 18 percent of the average national premium. There is no penalty for delaying enrollment if you qualify for Extra Help limited-income assistance.

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