It’s very important for seniors to enroll in Medicare when they are first eligible – unless they have a qualified exemption. If seniors miss this window, they risk paying a penalty that can last for years. As kupuna reach their 65th birthday, they should learn about Medicare enrollment rules to avoid burdensome penalties. Our Medicare agents are here to help!
Enroll in Medicare Under These Rules or Risk a 10%-Per-Year Penalty
Aren’t seniors automatically enrolled in Medicare?
It may seem like common knowledge that seniors are automatically enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65, but it isn’t quite that simple.
Most Americans are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) because they qualify for premium-free Part A after working at least 40 quarters of any job where they paid payroll taxes into Social Security and Medicare. Those who do not qualify for premium-free Part A are not automatically enrolled.
Seniors who are not eligible for premium-free Part A and who do not sign up for it when they first become eligible for the program at age 65, could be subject to a 10% increase in their monthly premium that they’ll have to pay for twice the number of years they didn’t sign up. For example, if someone fails to sign up for Medicare Part A for three years after they are eligible, they risk paying an additional 10% on their Part A premium for six years after they enroll. With the 2022 Part A premium set for $274 or $499 depending on how long you or your spouse worked or paid into the system, that’s an extra $27.40 or $49.90 per month.
If you are unsure about when you are eligible to enroll in Medicare or you’re worried that you missed your Initial Medicare Enrollment Period, contact a Medicare agent as soon as possible. The sooner we can help you get enrolled, the less likely you will need to pay a penalty.
What about Medicare Part B?
Medicare Part B (medical insurance) always comes with a monthly premium. For this reason, kupuna are not automatically enrolled in this coverage but if they do not sign up when they are first eligible, severe penalties could be applied to anyone without a qualified exemption. The 2022 monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $170.10 (or more for high income earners). Seniors who do not enroll in Part B when they are first eligible and that do not have a qualified reason to defer coverage, could see premium increases of 10% for every 12-month period they could have had Part B. This increase is cumulative, which means that someone who doesn’t enroll in Medicare Part B for 24 months after they are first eligible would have a 20% penalty charge on top of the regular monthly premium indefinitely! Someone in this situation would pay an additional $34.02 for every month they are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Note: seniors who are still enrolled in a group health plan can delay Medicare coverage. Once this coverage ends, there is an eight-month special enrollment period to sign up for Part B without penalties.
The Initial Medicare Enrollment Period (IEP) is when seniors first become eligible to enroll in Medicare coverage. The Medicare IEP begins three months before seniors turn 65 and runs for three full months after a person turns 65. Most seniors enroll during this initial seven-month window as it is the best time to sign up without any penalties.
Seniors who miss their Medicare IEP can sign up for Medicare during the General Medicare Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1–March 31 each year. Coverage begins July 1.
Seniors who delayed Medicare enrollment for a qualified reason can enroll in Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period.
The Annual Enrollment Period is between October 15 and December 7 each year. This is when people typically make changes to their Medicare plans.
Our independent insurance agents are dedicated to assisting people on Medicare and those who are ready to transition from employer coverage to personal retirement coverage. We help kupuna understand their benefits options and apply for additional coverage, as needed. Because we represent all the major Medicare Advantage and supplement plans in Hawaii, we are able to offer unbiased advice; all at no cost to our clients.
At PBC, our clients are our number one priority and we look forward to getting to know you and your needs. Call us today at (808) 738-4500 to see how we may be of assistance.