The seasons are changing and so are the election periods. Annual Election (Fall Open Enrollment for Medicare clients with Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans) is complete and a new year has begun.
Tis the season for those individuals who are aging into Medicare, those who are receiving disability benefits, or those who are retiring from years of hard work to transition into Medicare.
Individuals who are receiving Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security retirement benefits will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare, which includes Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) when turning 65.
Those individuals who have been on certain disability benefits for 24 months, even though they are under 65, will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Individuals who have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and who had a kidney transplant or need regular kidney dialysis can apply for Medicare. Those individuals who have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare in the same month that their disability benefits begin.
For individuals who received Medicare Part B automatically but do not wish to keep it, there are some options available. For example, if you have health insurance coverage through your current employment or through your spouse’s employment, Medicare Part B may be delayed. If your Medicare coverage has not yet started, and you were sent a red, white, and blue Medicare card, you can follow the instructions that came with your card and send the card back, thus delaying Part B benefits. If you signed up for Medicare through the Social Security Administration Office, then you should contact the Social Security Office directly to drop Part B coverage. If your Medicare coverage has started and you want to drop Part B, contact the Social Security Administration Office for instructions on how to submit a signed request. Your coverage will end the first day of the month after Social Security receives your request. You should always check with your employer’s health benefits administrator before making any decisions to cancel Part B coverage.
It is also a good idea to consult an agent who writes Medicare policies who can explain any late-enrollment penalties if you do not sign up for Medicare when you are first eligible for benefits.