Medicare is federal health insurance for individuals 65 and over, and the open enrollment period is happening now through December 7th, 2022. During the open enrollment period, you can switch plans or enroll in a new plan if you didn’t enroll when you were first eligible for Medicare. The new plans will take effect on January 1st, 2023.
Medicare offers three areas of insurance coverage:
- Medicare Part A: Hospital insurance
- Medicare Part B: Medical insurance
- Medicare Part D: Prescription drug coverage
Most people don’t pay a premium for Part A, but if you are not eligible, you can buy Part A. Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B. Part D requires you to join a Medicare approved plan that offers drug coverage. If approved, you will get assistance paying for prescription drugs.
What are the Various Types of Enrollment?
There are various ways to enroll. Here are your options:
- Initial Enrollment: You will be eligible for initial enrollment starting 3 months before you turn 65 and ending 3 months after you turn 65. The month you turn 65 will be included in this 7-month period. If you sign up in the three months before you turn 65, coverage will kick in the first day of the month you turn 65. If you sign up in the 3 months after you turn 65, coverage will kick in the first day of the month after you enroll.
- Open Enrollment: Open enrollment runs from October 15th – December 7th each year. During this time, you can join, switch, or drop coverage. Changes will go into effect on January 1st of the following year.
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Plan: Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage differs from regular Medicare as it is not managed by the government but by private insurance companies. As a result, you get the same benefits as original Medicare, but you may also get extras like vision and dental. People with Medicare Advantage can switch to a different plan or switch back to the original Medicare plan during the open enrollment period that runs from January 1- March 31 of each year.
How Do I Enroll?
Some people will need to enroll in Medicare and some people will get it automatically. When you apply for retirement or disability benefits from Social Security, it will automatically serve as application for Medicare. Your coverage will kick in when your retirement and disability benefits start. You will be immediately eligible for part A benefits. You will also receive Part B benefits unless you live in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S. However, you have the option of dropping Part B if you would rather not pay the premium.
If you didn’t apply for retirement or disability benefits from Social Security, you will need to apply online during one of the enrollment periods. There are many websites that allow you to apply online, but Medicare.gov may be the most reliable. Go on the site and enter your personal information to find out about your coverage eligibility.
We are currently in the middle of the 2023 Medicare open enrollment period. If you haven’t applied, make sure to do so. This will ensure you get coverage when you need medical care.
Take a look at AARP’s Medicare Resource Center for more guidance and resources.
Get help with Medicare Enrollment from CHOICES Counselors at Western CT Area Agency on Aging by calling 203-757-5449 x 134.