Medicare Deadlines and the Price of Waiting
Medicare deadlines are strict; enroll late and you face penalties and delayed coverage. Here are the optimal sign-up times for Medigap, Medicare Part B and Part D.
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Here are the optimal sign-up times for these plans.
- Part B
Sign up during the three months before you turn 65 so coverage begins on your 65th birthday. If you wait to sign up in the month of your 65th birthday or the following three months, it will delay the start of your coverage from one to three months. You can also sign up for Part B between January 1 and March 31 of each year, but your coverage will begin in July and your monthly premiums could be as high as 10 percent more for every 12 months you delayed. (If you had other health insurance through your employer or your spouse’s employer, you won’t be penalized.)
- Part D
When you are first eligible for Medicare, sign up during the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, or the three months after— or within 63 days of stopping another Medicare, employer, or retiree drug plan. Waiting results in higher premiums— an extra 32 cents for every month you went without coverage.
You have a six-month open enrollment period starting the month you’re 65 or older and first enrolled in Part B. You’ve got a guaranteed right to buy any Medigap policy sold in your state during this time; after that deadline, you could be turned down or face higher premiums.