Toni: My husband’s employer group health plan now has a $2500 deductible and the premium is over $600 for me. The HR manager confided to Carl that Medicare may be a less expensive option for us since I turn 65 on April 30th and gave him a Toni Says® newspaper article with your information regarding Medicare.
A girlfriend told me I have waited too long to enroll and now I will get the dreaded Medicare Part B penalty because I didn’t have Medicare start April 1st. I cannot get a straight answer as to what we need to do. Help Please!!
Mary Ann, Charlotte, NC
Mary Ann: Don’t fret, Mary Ann…. Your friend does not know her Medicare rules! April is your birthday month and you can enroll anytime in April and your Medicare will begin May 1st. You do not have to wait until April 30 to enroll.
Medicare has a special enrollment window called the enrollment effective date schedule, which is not mentioned in the Medicare and You Handbook but is discussed in my new Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition.
On page 5 of Chapter 1 in the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced, there is a chart with a time-line explaining when and how to enroll when turning 65.
The official Medicare & You handbook only discusses Medicare’s “Initial Enrollment Period” and does not go into detail.
Below is what you need to understand regarding Medicare’s effective date schedule:
• Enrolling anytime 3 months before turning 65, your Medicare begins the first day of the month you turn 65. Since you, Mary Ann, will turn 65 on April 30th of this year, you could have enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or B in January, February, or March (3 months prior) for an April 1st effective date. But you missed this window of opportunity and have other options.
• Enroll in Medicare the month you turn 65, which in your case is April, then your Medicare will begin 1 month after you sign up, which is May 1st. You may want your husband’s HR manager to disenroll you from their company benefits and you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement without answering one health question.
Now the fun begins:
• Enroll in Medicare 1 month after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin 2 months after you sign up. Enroll in May, your Medicare Parts A and B begin August 1st .
• Enroll in Medicare 2 months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin 3 months after you sign up.
Enroll in June, Medicare will begin October1st.
• Enroll in Medicare 3 months after you turn 65, your Medicare will begin 3 months after you sign up. Enroll Medicare in July, your Medicare will begin November 1st.
Mary Ann, your important 6-month Medigap/Medicare Supplement open enrollment application period begins on the 1st day of the month in which you have enrolled in Medicare
Part B and you do not have to answer one (1) medical question. You will have 6 months to apply for any Medicare Supplement without any health questions.
Next week I will discuss your other options to enroll in Medicare if you have never enrolled in Medicare, but wait until Carl retires and then want to apply for Medicare Parts A and B.
You see, Mary Ann, there are special Medicare enrollment protections for employees and their covered spouses working full-time with employer benefits.
Toni King is the author of the 2018 Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition which is available for sale at the www.tonisays.com. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.