We are now a month into 2021 and if you are turning 65 this year or retiring, there are Medicare election periods that you should know about. Although the list seems to be never ending when it comes to election periods, we will focus on four different election periods for this blog.
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): IEP is a seven-month period that an individual has to sign–up for Medicare Parts A and/or B and thus a Medicare Advantage Plan or Prescription Drug Plan. If you are eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you have a seven-month period to sign–up that consists of the following: You can sign-up three months prior to your birthday month; during your birthday month; or three months after your birthday month. For example, if your birthday was May 9th, you can enroll in February, March, or April for a May 1st effective date; during the month of May for a June 1st effective date; or anytime in June, July, or August which would result in an effective date for the 1st of the following month that you signed up. Please note that if you have a birthday on the 1st of the month, your effective date will be the month prior. For instance, if your birthday is May 1st your effective date would be April 1st. It is crucial to meet these deadlines so that you do not incur a late enrollment penalty.
- Leaving Employer Coverage (LEC): If you already have Medicare Parts A and B because your employer required it or you chose to sign-up for it, and you decide to retire and leave employer coverage, you have 63 days to choose your Medicare coverage. If you miss this election period, you will have to wait until Annual Enrollment Period in October of that year.
- Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): AEP is the time of year where you will review your current Medicare Advantage Plan (MAPD) or Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) and compare it to the following year’s benefits and to other plans in your market. AEP lasts from October 15th to December 7th every year for a January 1st effective date. You may also utilize this election period if you never enrolled in a MAPD/PDP and would like to explore those options. This election period is different than most because you can submit more than one application. So, whatever application is “last in” is the plan you are associated with for the following calendar year.
- Open Enrollment Period (OEP): Open Enrollment Period is from January 1st to March 31st. This election period is for individuals that have a Medicare Advantage Plan ONLY and need to make a plan change or want to drop the Medicare Advantage Plan coverage and return to original Medicare. If someone drops their Medicare Advantage Plan and returns to original Medicare, they are then eligible to sign-up for a Prescription Drug Plan so that coverage is not lost.
If you are approaching your 65th birthday or need some guidance on current Medicare options, call Hovis & Associates at (800) 411-0737 or check out our Medicare FAQs on our website. If you would like a list of all the election periods, see this past blog post. We make the complicated SIMPLE!