Medicare Open Enrollment: Today Is The Last Day to Sign Up

The Sea Ranch, California - October 19, 2018: Woman holding medicare card in medical office.
Bill Oxford / Getty Images

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare coverage ends today, Tuesday, Dec. 7. This means if you have not already signed up, or are already signed up and simply want to make changes, today is your last chance to do so. 

See: Retirement: Medicare Part B Will Rise 14.5% Next Year — More Than Double the Estimate
Find: Medicare Penalty: Sign Up Before You Turn 65 to Avoid Late Enrollment Charges

During the annual open enrollment period you can:

  • Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare or vice versa.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Switch from one Part D prescription plan to another. It’s highly recommended that all beneficiaries use Medicare’s plan finder tool each year to compare the available Part D plans, as opposed to simply letting an existing drug plan auto-renew.
  • Join a Medicare Part D plan. (Late-enrollment penalty might apply.)
  • Drop your Part D coverage altogether. (Re-enrolling in a later year will include a late-enrollment penalty if you’re not maintaining other creditable drug coverage.)

Most Americans are eligible for Medicare once they turn 65, but some may be eligible even earlier. In fact, 14% of all Medicare beneficiaries are under the age of 65 and became eligible after receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or being diagnosed with ALS or end-stage renal disease. Most of those who have Medicare receive Part A without needing to pay any monthly premium, but this also depends on a number of factors. Some might even need to pay more than the standard amount for their Medicare Part B and Part D coverage. 

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In order to get Medicare Part A without having to pay the monthly premium, you or your spouse must have worked for at least 10 years in the United States, paying Medicare taxes during that time. 

Those with high incomes will likely pay more than others for Part B and Part D coverage. High income is defined as having had a 2020 income of more than $91,000 for a single person or $182,000 for a couple. Medicare Resource claims that the determination is always based on income earned two years prior, but there is an appeals process you can use if your circumstances have changed significantly since then. 

See: Appealing to Social Security Administration Can Reduce Your Medicare Payments if You’ve Lost Income
Find: Retirement: Medicare Part B Will Rise 14.5% Next Year — More Than Double the Estimate

How To Enroll

If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, the government actually automatically enrolls you in both Medicare Part A and Part B by the age of 65. You will receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before you turn 65, with your coverage taking effect in the first month you turn 65.

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You can also call the administration at 1-800-772-1213 to enroll or ask questions about whether you are eligible, or visit their website here.

Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to enroll in Medicare or to ask questions about whether you are eligible. You can also visit their website here.

The Web site also has a tool to help you determine if you are eligible for Medicare and when you can enroll, called the Medicare Eligibility Tool.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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