Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Fall/Winter 2019 - 16

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What's the Right
Time to Enroll?

I

By Debra R. Franklin, Esquire, and Tony Montgomery

f you are among the estimated 64 million Americans eligible
for Medicare, the arrival of the holidays and the closing
of Medicare's annual enrollment season probably has your
mailbox, voicemail and e-mail Inbox jammed to capacity. The
stress of finding the perfect gift this holiday season is nothing
compared with selecting the right Medicare plan for your unique
needs. Of course, the information overload from Medicare plan
providers are jockeying for your business isn't designed to be easy
to understand. In fact, it often complicates your decision-making
process on which plan will best suit your needs. But what exactly
does the Medicare annual enrollment period mean?

First it's important to know that there are different types
of Medicare enrollment periods, and each provides different
opportunities than the period that is now just beginning. Here's a
look at the details:

1. The first enrollment period that people encounter is the
IEP or Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. This is the time
where you first become eligible to enroll into Medicare. This
window, which lasts for 7 months, begins 3 months before the
month in which you turn 65, runs through the month that
you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Your Medicare start date will be the 1st of the month that
you turn 65, or in the instances of people whose birthday is
on the 1st day of the month, the start date would be the first
of the previous month, so if your 65th birthday is January
15th, your Medicare start date is January 1st; and if your
65th birthday is January 1st, then your Medicare start date is
December 1st. If your 65th birthday is January 1st, then your
Medicare start date is December 1st. If you were to enroll
into Medicare in the eligible months after your 65th birthday,
then your Medicare enrollment would begin the 1st of the
next month. Contrary to popular opinion you DO NOT
need to enroll into Medicare Parts A & B if you currently
have credible insurance through an employer group health

16 | Berks Barrister

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plan where the employer has 20 or more employees. If you
delay your enrollment into Medicare due to the fact that you
have credible insurance through an employer, you are eligible
to begin your Medicare Parts A & B the 1st of ANY month
after the month in which you turn 65.
2. The most well-known enrollment period is this time of
year. It is called the AEP or Medicare Annual Enrollment
Period. It runs every year from October 15th to December
7th. This window is for people who are already enrolled
into Medicare and want to explore changing their current
insurance plans in favor of something that may better suit
their needs. In this window people can change from one
Part C Advantage plan to another, change from a Part
C Advantage plan back to Medicare with a Medicare
supplement and Part D Prescription plan (underwriting
permitting), or from Medicare and a supplement into a
Medicare Part C Advantage plan. The enrollee can make as
many changes during this window as they like with the last
change, prior to the end of business on December 7th, being
the plan that they will have beginning on January 1st of the
subsequent year. Most of insurance carriers and insurance
agents choose this time of year to spend most of their
marketing budget on advertising in order to entice people to
switch to their plans.

3. A little known enrollment period comes next. It is the
OEP or Medicare Open Enrollment Period. This period
was re-introduced in 2019 as a window to give people an
opportunity to review and re-evaluate the plans they selected
during the AEP. This period runs from January 1st to March
31st. In this time period, people have a single opportunity to
switch the Medicare Part C Advantage plan they have with
another, or switch from a Medicare Part C Advantage plan
to go back into Medicare and a Supplement with a Part D
plan. If they make a switch in this window their new plan will


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Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Fall/Winter 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Fall-Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/berksbarrister_winter2017
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