Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

What is the Medicare General Enrollment Period?

Medicare provides an opportunity to apply for Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B if you did not enroll when you became Initially Eligible. Anyone eligible for Medicare can register during the General Enrollment Period between January 1 and March 31 each year. The coverage will begin on July 1.

General Enrollment Period At-A-Glance

  • Regardless of when you turned 65, you can enroll in Part A, Part B or both during the General Enrollment Period
  • Your coverage begins on July 1
  • You might be required to pay late enrollment penalties
  • You might also be eligible to enroll in Medicare Advantage (Plan C) or a Part D Prescription Drug plan between April 1 and June 30 in the same year

Will I Pay Penalties If I Enroll During the General Enrollment Period?

If you signed up for Medicare after your Initial Enrollment Period, you might pay a perpetual penalty fee. The penalty may apply to Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D. They may charge more per month based on how long you waited to enroll.

Medicare Part A

If you or your spouse worked and paid taxes for at least 10 years, you might not pay any premium.

However, if you enrolled after you were first eligible, you may pay a late enrollment penalty of 10%. The penalty amount is based on the number of years you delayed enrollment.

For each year you waited to enroll, you would pay a 10% premium penalty for 2 years. So if you wait for 2 years, you will pay 10% for 4 years.

Medicare Part B

Typically, if you don't register for Part B when you are first eligible, you will pay the penalty for late enrollment.

It is a steep penalty, too. For each 12-month period you delay enrollment, you pay an additional 10% premium. Unlike Part A, the penalty does not end after a year or two. Instead, you will pay it for as long as you have Part B.

For example, suppose your Initial Enrollment Period ended on November 30, 2017. But you enrolled in Part B in February 2020 during the General Enrollment Period (January 1-March 31). Consequently, you waited more than 2 years (24 months) to enroll, so Medicare charged you a 20% penalty on your Part B premium. Unfortunately, that penalty will never decrease.

You can avoid the late enrollment penalty if you sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period or qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

You can also avoid a penalty if you enroll during the General Enrollment Period if it has been less than 12 months since your Initial Enrollment Period ended.

You can typically avoid a late enrollment penalty if you meet specific criteria that permit registration for Part B during a Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D has a 1% late enrollment penalty. They place a 1% increase to your monthly premium for as long as you have Medicare Part D.

Medicare permits delay of Part D enrollment if you qualify for Extra Help or have drug coverage through another source. However, if you haven't had creditable coverage for more than 63 days, Medicare applies the penalty.

Do I Pay Penalties If I'm Employed and Eligible for Medicare?

If you are 65 or older and still receive health insurance through your employer, you will probably not incur penalties. But it's essential to make sure you participate in your Medicare Initial Enrollment on your 65th birthday.

Make sure you enroll in Medicare Part A. It has a $0 premium if you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years.

If you don't already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, Medicare may not notify you about your Initial Enrollment Period.

When you retire and lose your health insurance, check with Medicare. You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. It allows you to enroll in Part B and Part D penalty-free.

Make sure you request your employer to provide you with confirmation of creditable coverage.

Where Can I Get Help with a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage Plan?

AARDY is the nation's fastest Medicare insurance marketplace. You can compare Medicare supplements and Medicare Advantage plans to find the one that best fits your needs.

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