| Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Missing Medicare Deadlines: Four Things You Need to Know About Penalties

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

According to the Social Security Administration, more than 10,000 Americans become eligible for Medicare every day.There are several benefits to enrolling in Medicare as soon as you’re eligible. You won’t forfeit your Medicare coverage by not signing up immediately, but you may face penalties, and your premiums could be permanently increased. Here are four things you need to know:

1) Part A covers hospital care. Most people do not pay a premium for Part A; for these individuals, there’s not a penalty for enrolling late. However, if you do pay a premium, there may be a penalty for delaying, making your payments more costly.

2) Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient care and requires a premium. There are some very good reasons to enroll in Medicare Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). For most people, your IEP begins three months before your 65th birth month, runs through your birth month, and ends 3 months after your birth month—a total of 7 months. If you’re eligible for Social Security, you’re probably automatically signed up for Part B. If not, you can enroll through your Social Security office.

Missing your IEP could mean a 10% increase in your Medicare Part B premium, and the penalty increases each 12-month period you postpone. For example, waiting 24 months may boost your premium by 20%. However, if you’re still covered by an employer’s plan, this penalty may not apply. Contact your Social Security office for details.

3) Part D prescription drug coverage is optional. There may be a penalty for not signing up during your Initial Enrollment Period.

4) Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap) is private insurance that helps pay for some of the costs Original Medicare does not pay. There’s no penalty for applying any time after you’ve joined Medicare Part B. However, if you apply during the 6th month period after you enroll in Original Medicare, private insurers can’t consider your medical history when reviewing your application.

According to the Social Security Administration, roughly 10,000 Americans become eligible for Medicare each day. It’s a good idea to do some research before you’re eligible, so you’re ready to make a decision about the right care for you.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

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Fact source: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/babyboomerfiles-pr.htm