| Wed, Oct 06, 2010 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Enrollment Periods: Are You Ready?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

 Medicare Enrollment PeriodsThere is no need to be worried when it comes to enrolling in Medicare. A little research can help you feel ready to make an informed decision when your enrollment period opens. Because there are limitations on when you can enroll and/or change your Medicare coverage, it is important to understand the way Medicare works.

Initial Enrollment Period

The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) typically begins at age 64 and 9 months. At this time, beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in Part A and have a 7 month window to enroll in Medicare Parts B, C and/or D. It is important to remember that premiums for Parts B and D may go up if you do not enroll during IEP. If you miss your enrollment period you will need to wait until the next Annual Election Period to get coverage for parts Parts B, C and/or D.

Annual Election Period

The 2010 Annual Election Period (AEP) runs from November 15 through December 31 in 2010.  During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can reevaluate their coverage and make changes to their plan(s). For example, perhaps you are currently enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and you’re interested in adding Part D for prescription drug coverage. If this is the case, you can begin to make your selection at any point during the Annual Election Period.

Special Enrollment Period

You may be  eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you are already enrolled in Medicare Part A but waited to enroll in Medicare Part B because you  were still insured by a third party. In this case, you may sign up for Part B while still covered by third-party insurance, or you may apply for Part B coverage in the 8 months following the end of your insurance coverage. In most situations people who sign up for Part B during their Special Enrollment Period are not charged higher premiums

Note: When your Special Enrollment Period begins so too does your Medigap Open Enrollment.

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

The Medigap (also called “Medicare Supplement Insurance”) Open Enrollment Period starts automatically when you turn 65 and join Medicare Part B, and lasts for 6 months. During this time a beneficiary cannot be turned down for a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy. You may apply for coverage at any time, but you’re guaranteed coverage if you apply during your open enrollment period.  If you apply outside your open enrollment period you are not guaranteed coverage and you may be charged higher premiums. There are certain limited situations in which you have the right to buy a policy regardless of your health after your open enrollment period ends.

Want to know more about how to prepare for your election period? Download Medicare Made Clear to read more about enrollment, how Medicare works and to learn about your options.

Additional Resources

http://www.medicare.gov

http://ssa.gov/pubs/10043.html

http://www.healthbeatblog.org/

The family of UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Solutions plans are insured or covered by an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and Medicare-approved Part D Sponsor.

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