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Getting Started: Medicare Options and Important Dates

Thinking about Medicare? It’s important to know that enrollment in federal health insurance isn’t automatic. Learn about your Medicare options and important dates for sign-up.

Important Enrollment Dates To Remember

Are you turning 65 soon or over 65 and retiring? It may be time to enroll in Medicare or explore your Medicare coverage options. Here are specific dates to keep in mind about when to enroll:

Initial Enrollment Period

If you will soon be turning 65, you are eligible to participate in an Initial Enrollment Period determined by your birth month. Your initial enrollment period starts three (3) months before your 65th birthday, includes your birth month, and extends three (3) months after your birth month. It is important to enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period to avoid any gap in coverage, potential late enrollment penalties, or having to delay enrollment until the next general enrollment period.

If you enroll during the first three months of your enrollment period, your coverage will begin sooner than if you sign up later in the enrollment period. Enroll by visiting your local Social Security office or calling the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.

January 1 – March 31

General Enrollment

If you miss your Initial Medicare Enrollment period for whatever reason, you can sign up for Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and/or Part B) during the General Enrollment Period that runs from January 1 through March 31 of every year. You might have to pay a late enrollment penalty for Part A and Part B if you did not sign up when you were first eligible.

January 1 – March 31

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

This is when people who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can change to another plan or enroll in Original Medicare.

October 15 – December 7

Medicare Annual Enrollment

This is when anyone who has Medicare can make coverage changes for the upcoming year. Each year, health plans review and may change their benefits and the prescription drug formularies. Many of the changes can be substantial from year to year, and many new plan features may be added. It is important to meet annually with a licensed insurance agent to review your current plan and your healthcare needs so you can decide whether your current plan is still the best fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

If You Are Covered By Group Health Insurance

If you are working past 65, are covered by group health insurance, and plan to retire soon, your separation date from work triggers a Special Enrollment Period when you can enroll in Medicare. You will want to work with your insurance broker to ensure there are no gaps in coverage.

How to Avoid a Penalty Fee

If you don’t sign up for Medicare coverage during your initial enrollment period and you don’t have other similar coverage, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty when you eventually do sign up. This penalty is added to your monthly premium every month after that. The penalty increases the longer you neglect to sign up for Medicare and do not have similar coverage, such as coverage from your employer. You must have credible proof of this coverage to avoid the penalty.

Special Election Period

If you qualify for Extra Help, also called Low Income Subsidy (LIS), you may join or switch Medicare Advantage plans once per calendar quarter during the first nine months of the year. This special election period can be used once during one of these three periods: January through March, April through June, and July through September.

Understanding Original Medicare Vs. Medicare Advantage Coverage

One of the first things you’ll need to do when deciding what coverage is best for you is to carefully to consider whether Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or Medicare Advantage (Part C) coverage better meets your healthcare needs. You can learn more about both on our Understanding Medicare page. In a nutshell:

  • When you enroll in Medicare for the first time, you’ll automatically be signed up for Original Medicare.
  • Once you enroll in Medicare and decide to switch to another coverage option, you can do so during the Annual Enrollment Period that runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.
  • If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can change to another plan or enroll in Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) from January 1 through March 3.

Enrolling In The Collaborative Senior Care Advantage Program

First, you need to determine your status and where you fall in the different enrollment periods explained above. Then, to participate in the Collaborative Senior Care Advantage program, you must be enrolled in a participating Medicare Advantage plan and designate one of our Primary Care Physicians at Entira Family Clinics or Richfield Medical Group to oversee your care.

As you enroll in one of our accepted Medicare Advantage plans and designate one of our primary care physicians on your enrollment application to oversee your care, you are automatically enrolled in the Collaborative Senior Care Advantage program at no additional cost. We contract with most major Medicare Advantage plans.

If you are already an Entira or Richfield patient enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with one of the participating insurance companies, you automatically have access to the Collaborative Senior Care Advantage program. Please consult with your Entira or Richfield physician if you are unsure.

Additional Resources To Help You Get Started

To reach an Independent Licensed Medicare agent that understands the Collaborative Senior Care Advantage program and is appointed by the insurance companies we are contracted with, you may utilize one of the following options:

Give Us A Call

Call (763) 290-6385 to speak to an Independent Licensed Agent who can review your Medicare coverage options. They can help you over the phone or book a face-face appointment with a local broker for you.

Contact Us Online

Complete the form below, and an Independent Licensed Agent will contact you to help you explore options that best meet your needs. Contact Us.

Attend A Medicare 101 Session

Join us for a no-cost Medicare information session to learn about Medicare options, enrollment deadlines and more. We offer in-person and online sessions. Click here to view upcoming sessions.

Enroll Online

You can start browsing and comparing Medicare plans from different providers with our convenient Get A Quote tool. Click here to starting shopping.

No-Cost Informational Medicare Events

Join us for a no-cost Medicare information session to learn about Medicare plan options, enrollment deadlines and more.

*I also authorize the broker to email, call or text me at the phone number and email provided (even if that number is on any Do Not Call Registry or is a wireless number) regarding Medicare coverage options, including potentially through insurance products and services (such as Medicare Advantage plans). The broker’s messages may be artificial or pre-recorded or may be sent by an automatic telephone dialing system to the relevant number. I understand that I am not required to opt in to receive text messages, calls, or emails as a condition (directly or indirectly) of transacting with Collaborative Senior Care Advantage or broker. I am the current authorized user of the phone number and email address provided. I consent to calls with me being recorded and monitored. I understand that text messages are recurring and on-going and that messaging and data rates may apply. I consent to and understand that emails are recurring and on-going unless I choose to unsubscribe. I understand that I can withdraw consent or unsubscribe at any time by texting.

Independent, licensed insurance agents work with Medicare enrollees to explain Medicare Supplement Insurance and Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan options offered by organizations contracting with Medicare. Independent, licensed agents may not offer every plan available in your area. Any information they provide will be limited to those plans that they offer in your area. For a complete listing of available Medicare plans, please contact 1-800-Medicare (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or consult Enrollment in any Medicare plan depends upon contract renewal. For accommodations of persons with special needs at meetings, call (763) 290-6385 (TTY 711).

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