Many people find that navigating Medicare can be confusing, and they often have questions about when they will begin receiving their benefits once they are signed up. Previously, if you missed signing up for your Medicare Part B supplement in the three months leading up to your birthday, but you did enroll either the month of your birthday or in the three months following (which is still within your initial enrollment period), your Part B supplement would have a delayed start date. This often became very confusing for people, and they could end up with expensive gaps in their health coverage.
The good news is that starting January 1, 2023, the enrollment parameters outlined above will change.
Going forward, if you sign up for Medicare Part B in the three months leading up to your birthday, your benefits will start the first day of your birthday month, even if your birthday is toward the middle or end of the month. The exception to this is if your birthday falls on the first of the month, in which case your Part B coverage will begin on the first day of the month immediately before your birthday month. For example, if your birthday is on May 1 your Part B supplement will kick in on April 1 if you are enrolled before April 1.
For people who choose to delay enrollment, starting in 2023 Part B will begin on the first of the following month after enrollment, provided you enroll during your initial enrollment period. As a reminder, that seven-month timeframe begins three months before your birthday month, continues through the month of your birthday and the three months after your birthday month.
If you miss your initial enrollment period you can still enroll during the general enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. Previously, if you enrolled during the general enrollment period your Medicare Part B coverage would not start until July 1, which is a significant lag time. For these individuals, there is also a beneficial change: starting in 2023 your coverage will begin the month after you sign up. However, you might still have a late enrollment penalty for missing your initial enrollment period or if you do not have creditable coverage prior to the start date of Part B coverage.
In the instance that you opted out of using your initial enrollment period because you have creditable coverage from another source, there are still special enrollment opportunities available if you will lose group health coverage or qualify for a FEMA special enrollment period.
If you do use a special enrollment period for your Part B coverage, you can request to have your Part B supplement start at any time so long as you can provide proof of creditable coverage. However, to avoid a late enrollment penalty, you must enroll within eight months of losing your employer-sponsored coverage or your spouse’s employer-sponsored coverage.
For those who delay enrollment past the eight-month mark, you will have to wait until the general enrollment period to sign up and you will be assessed late enrollment penalties. If you choose to go on COBRA after your group plan coverage ends but you are eligible for Medicare, you still need to sign up for Medicare within eight months of losing your employment status. Currently, losing COBRA does not count as a special enrollment period for Medicare.
A licensed insurance broker can help you navigate getting signed up for Medicare and help ensure you maintain your benefits. At Translating Insurance, we are licensed in multiple states and offer free consultations. Call us at 503 324 4511 to schedule an appointment.