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When Does Your Medicare Coverage Become Effective?

The date you sign up for Medicare impacts when your Medicare coverage become effective. Find out how to make sure your coverage starts on time.

2 mins read
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Critical Information You Need to Know If You Want Uninterrupted Healthcare Coverage on Medicare

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 (IEP) 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.

What If You Enroll Later During Your IEP?

If you delay enrolling, things used to be more complicated. Prior to 2023, if you enrolled during any of the last three months of their IEP your coverage would start two to three months after you sign up.

Starting January 1, 2023, Medicare coverage will begin on the 1st of the month after after the month you enroll.

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

No, there are not. But you run the risk of having a period in which you have a gap in your health coverage. In other words, you may not be covered of your prior coverage does not extend beyond our 65th birthday 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 General Enrollment Period (GEP) during January through March of the following calendar year.

Medicare coverage will begin on the 1st of the month after after the month you enroll.

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 if you miss your IEP. That could be a health care plan from your employer, spouse 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 both your Medicare Part A and 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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Josef Katz

Josef is a digital marketing expert, is a podcast host of PrimeLife and formerly a licensed insurance agent. Josef has had an extensive career across the education, healthcare, insurance and financial services sectors and is passionate about educating consumers.

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