The General Enrollment Period for Medicare Part A and B runs from January 1, 2013 through March 31, 2013. This is different that the Open Enrollment Period that runs from October 15th to December 7th. The General Enrollment Period is for people:
who did not sign up for Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B, when they were first eligible, or
who are not eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A (for example those who do not have sufficient work history).
If you do not have enough work history in the Medicare System you can still purchase coverage. For 2013, the premium for Medicare Part A is $441.00. Most people do not have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A if they are age 65 and already received retirement benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board, are eligible for such benefits, or had Medicare-covered government employment. If an eligible person does not sign up for Medicare Part A when he or she is first eligible, Medicare assesses a 10% penalty on the $441.00 monthly premium. You will pay the higher premium for twice the number of years that you could have signed up for Part A and chose not to.
The Medicare Part B premium starts out at $104.90 each month for 2013. However, certain people whose income is greater than $85,000 will pay a higher premium in 2013. Like Medicare Part A, if an eligible person does not sign up for Medicare Part B when he or she is first eligible, Medicare may assess a penalty of 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Medicare Part B and did not enroll in it.
When an eligible person enrolls during the General Enrollment Period, the actual coverage date will be July 1, 2013. Thus, even though the person has signed up for Medicare A and B, he or she will not be able to use it until July 1st.
The way to enroll depends your circumstances. If the person already has Medicare Part A, he or she can call the local Social Security office or 1 (800) 772-1213 to sign up. If the person receives benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, he or she needs to call the local office or 1 (877) 772-5772 to sign up. If the person does not receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board, he or she should call the local Social Security office or 1 (800) 772-1213 to sign up.
As I mentioned above, the General Enrollment Period only applies to people who missed their initial sign up opportunity. If you did not sign up for Medicare Part A or Part B, when you were first eligible or if you do not have enough of a work history to qualify for free Medicare Part A, then it is a good idea to enroll now and limit the amount of penalties that you could incur.
At Osterhout & McKinney, we care about the issues that impact the elderly and disabled. Our elder law office can be reached at (239) 939-4888.