This initial enrollment period begins for each on the first day of the month in which they are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Initial Enrollment starts 3 months prior to your birthday and 3 months after your birthday for a total of six months to get enrolled.
For example, if your birthday is March 3 and you enroll in Medicare Part B to start on March 1 of that same year, your Initial Enrollment period would begin in January and last through the month of June.
One thing that causes confusion in understanding when the Open Enrollment period falls is the fact that many Medicare Supplement companies also extend a six-month period before the start of one’s Initial Enrollment.
During this period, companies allow you to sign up for coverage that is not effective until the actual Part B effective date (often the same as the first day of the month in which you turn 65). So in that case, an individual would have a 12-month period in which he/she could sign up with no medical underwriting.
Are You Ready For Medicare Open Enrollment?
When Medicare Open Enrollment rolls around, it is time to consider your health and prescription plans for next year. According to the US Center for Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Open Enrollment is from October 15 to December 7th each year.
Even if you are content with your current Medicare health and prescription benefits, you want to make sure that the plan will be very similar next year. Because plans do change, and the period after Medicare Open Enrollment is when those changes will show up.
How To Prepare For Medicare Open Enrollment
The Medicare websites give some great tips to evaluate your current Medicare health and prescription plans, and they are pretty simple.
Gather Information About Your Health Needs
This includes your current order list, your medical providers, and any notices you have received from Medicare, Social Security, and any private health or prescription insurance companies about changes to your Compare plans in your local area for cost, coverage, and customer service.
You can do research by using the Medicare website, contacting a local insurance agent who is a specialist on many Medicare Health and Prescription Plans, and also by asking people you know and trust about their experiences.
Decide if you want to keep your current coverage or make a change.
If you decide to consult an insurance agent, look for a Medicare specialist who is appointed and certified with multiple area plans. If you find an agent who only represents one company, they may be less motivated to give you a balanced view. Of course, you may end up purchasing from one company, but it would be best to do your shopping with a consultant who is not motivated only to push one plan.
Understand the differences between Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Supplements. This subject still causes confusion.
And no, there is no one right answer for everybody. Some people feel as if Medicare Advantage plans are only for seniors with moderate to low incomes, but some individuals with very high incomes are very satisfied with Medicare Advantage.
On the other hand, some people, especially those who do not live where a doctor network is convenient, may be happier with a very flexible plan like some Medicare Supplements, even though they cost more. Of course, on still another hand, some Medicare Advantage plans will work with any doctor who accepts the plan so that they can be very flexible too!
If you have questions, do not hesitate to consult health insurance agent. An insurance agent who specializes in Medicare health plans should not charge you anything. They earn a living with commissions from the various companies when they do sell a plan.
If you can find an agent who is appointed and certified with all, or most, of the local plans, they will not be motivated by that commission to select one plan over another. They should be motivated to find the best plan for you, and keep you as a valuable client!
Medicare Open Enrollment – How and When Do You Change Medicare Plans?
American Medicare recipients have the opportunity to make changes to existing Medicare plans during the six weeks period known as the Medicare Open Enrollment period. During this time, they can choose to go with Original Medicare Only, Medicare plus a supplemental insurance plan and to sign up for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D), or combine all into one Medicare Advantage plan.
Once a decision has been made, the change to the Medicare beneficiary’s plan will take effect on January 1st of the next calendar year. To avoid any confusion, it is best to make any changes as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last minute of open enrollment. If a change of plan has been decided upon, the user should do one of the following to make the changes:
Complete a paper application with the company managing the plan.
Go to the plan’s website and apply online.
Call the company and signup by phone.
Go to the Medicare official website and apply (Note: this option may not contain the plan you want).
Call Medicare directly and make the change.
To signup for the new plan, you will need to be prepared to provide your full name, address, date of birth, Medicare card information, social security number, emergency contact information and the name and address of the nursing home facility or assisted living center in which the person resides (if applicable).
A few weeks after signing up, the company managing the plan will send a packet containing the membership card, a plan user guide and a list of covered prescription drugs and approved pharmacies as well as some other information.
If a user decides that he or she does not want to have a new plan, no action is required. The existing plan will be rolled over at the end of the cycle.
All recipients of Medicare should annually review their current plan versus other plans to ensure they have the best choice for their situation. Take a close look at pricing and benefits to compare pricing.