| Mon, Oct 10, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

What is Medicare’s General Enrollment Period?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

The Medicare General Enrollment Period, or GEP, is another chance for you to sign up for Original Medicare.Did you miss your Initial Enrollment Period – your first opportunity to enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A & B) ? If you did, Medicare’s General Enrollment Period, or GEP, is another chance for you to sign up for Original Medicare. The GEP runs from January 1 through March 31 every year.

Enroll Early to Avoid a Penalty

If you or your spouse made Social Security contributions for ten years or more, Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is premium free and you’re signed up automatically. The medical insurance component of Original Medicare, called Medicare Part B, requires a monthly premium.

When you sign up for Original Medicare during the GEP, unless you qualified for a Special Enrollment Period (for example, because you were still working) you may pay a penalty premium of 10% of your premium for every 12-month period you delayed enrollment. Unless you qualify for an exception, the penalty starts July 1 and lasts as long as you have Medicare Part B.

If you aren’t eligible for premium-free Part A, and you didn’t buy it when you were first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You will have to pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn’t sign up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for two years but didn’t sign up, you will have to pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don’t have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.

Changes During the Annual Enrollment Period

After you have used the GEP to sign up for Original Medicare, you are eligible to use the Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7 to make changes to your Medicare plan. The changes go into effect on January 1 of the following year. You can move to a private Medicare Advantage plan, purchase a private Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or make other plan changes allowed during the Annual Enrollment Period.

For more information, contact Social Security.

To learn more, contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear at 1-877-619-5582 (TTY 711), 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week. You may also call the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.

Resources:

CMS’ Medicare and You – Medicare.gov

General Enrollment and Eligibility – Medicare.gov

Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods – Medicare.gov

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