When Does Your Medicare Coverage Become Effective?

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Critical Information You Need to Know If You Want Uninterrupted Health Care Coverage

You probably have a lot of questions about Medicare. But of them all, the most critical is probably:

When Does Your Medicare Coverage Become Effective?

You probably know that you should enroll in Medicare during the three months before your 65th birthday. And the earlier you enroll, the better. But when does your coverage become effective? And if you enroll later, when does your coverage start? Are there penalties?

Here are answers to those critical questions.

Understanding the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

There is a seven-month Initial Enrollment Period around your 65th birthday. It is comprised of the three months before you turn 65, the month when you turn 65, and the three months following your 65th birthday.

This is the period when you can sign up for Original Medicare, which is the default Medicare program.

Typically if you sign up in any of the three calendar months preceding the month when you turn 65, your coverage will start on the first day of the month you turn 65. If your birthday falls on April 29th for example, your Medicare coverage will start on April 1st of that month. And you can breathe easy.

But What If You Enroll Later?

If you delay enrolling, things become more complicated, and your coverage will start later.

If your birthday is in April and you enroll in April, for example, your coverage will start on May 1st. (A one-month delay.)

But if your birthday is in April and you enroll in May, your Medicare coverage will start two months later than that, on August 1st. (A two-month, or 60-day delay.)

And if you enroll in July, your coverage will not start until another 90 days have elapsed, or on November 1st.

When Your Medicare Coverage Become Effective a Chart Based on Dates of Enrollment - CoverRight

Are There Penalties for Enrolling in the Second Half of Your IEP?

No, there are not. But you run the very real risk of having a period in which you have a gap in your health coverage. In other words, you will not be covered at all. So you want to make sure you enroll in a timely way.

What If You Miss the Entire Medicare Initial Enrollment Period?

If you do – meaning that you simply fail to enroll during the seven-month window around your 65th birthday – you will have to wait and enroll in the next January through March open enrollment period and then your coverage will start July of that year.

Because you don’t want to have a gap in medical coverage you should make sure that you have some other form of health care coverage in place. That could be a health care plan from your employer, or it could be a Cobra plan or another form of temporary coverage.

Will a Private Medicare Plan Step in and Cover You If You Miss the Initial Enrollment Period?

No, it will not. By law, a Medicare Advantage Plan or any Medicare Supplemental plan cannot provide coverage until your Medicare Part A + B are in effect. So remember, the earliest you can get covered by any supplemental plans is the day when your government-provided Medicare coverage starts.

Again, your coverage through add-on Medicare policies cannot start until your Medicare coverage begins.

Your Best Defense: Start Early and Enroll During Your Initial Enrollment Period!

Speak with a CoverRight Medicare Enrollment Specialist today to make sure you are enrolling in Medicare at a time when your Medicare coverage starts on the first day of the month when you turn 65.

At CoverRight, we’re here to help you find the right Medicare coverage based on your needs. Reach out today and start finding the best Medicare plan for you.

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