Like a fine print contract, when it comes to Medicare, you’ll need to make sure you or someone else you trust is reading what “i’s” have been dotted and which “t’s” have been crossed.
And although you might not be well-versed in medical care law, there are certain precautionary steps you can take that can help you avoid any possible late fees in accordance with certain penalties.
If you’re switching healthcare plans and need to know when it’s best to enroll, read on to make sure your coverage is seamless. This can help you avoid any possible late fees by enrolling or switching plans at the right time.
WHY would you change healthcare plans? Life can be pretty unpredictable.
This means that you may come to find that either your healthcare needs will change over time, or your family plan may need to be extended, reduced or even changed entirely.
Your financial situation may also change over time, requiring you to get a lower-cost healthcare plan. Or on the other end of the spectrum—you may be able to afford a more coverage-friendly plan.
So, WHEN can I change Medicare plans?
There are certain prime-time ranges to when switching Medicare plans is going to be the most profitable—or at least when you’ll less likely incur switching fees or late penalties.
Fortunately, the process of switching Medicare plans is actually relatively easy when it comes down to it. However, knowing when and not how is the most important.
Here are a few periods of time that are the most profitable for you:
- The Annual Election Period
If you have either Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D, your prime-time for changing plans will be during the Open Enrollment Period—or the Annual Election Period.
Just like the National Presidential Election, this period is easier to remember since you’ll be able to change plans from October 15 to December 7 each year.
For those 53 days, you’ll be able to either switch from Medicare Parts A and B to an Advantage plan or visa versa.
You can also change your plans from one Medicare Advantage plan or Part D Plan to another—especially if you’re switching to one that offers drug coverage (if your previous plan did not).
If you choose this time period to make the switch, your new plan will become effective on the first of January the following year.
- The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
With terms similar to the previous period, if you’re looking to switch back from Advantage to Parts A and B, then you can do so during this period, which takes place from January 1-March 31 each year.
After making the switch, your new plan will become effective on the first day of the month after you switch.
- The Special Election Period
You don’t always have to rely on the time of the year to get you out of a too-expensive healthcare plan. The “time period” in this section gives you the opportunity to be able to switch plans when you or your family have to undergo certain circumstances.
Although not all events are listed here, you’re able to switch insurance plans if you move to a new address, lose your current insurance or qualify for other coverage due to finances, among others, like living in an institution such as a nursing home or another long-term care facility.
Avoiding Penalty Fees
However, no matter when you make the switch, you still might have the possibility of incurring certain penalty fees.
In this next section, we’re going to help present you with a few tips that can help you avoid paying extra when you make a switch in your healthcare plans—and keep you from paying those fees for the rest of your life.
- First, join the Medicare Plan when you’re first eligible. Capitalizing on that certain time can help you avoid paying the Part D Late Enrollment Penalty.
So, when your 65th birthday is coming up, you can start to look into switching three months before that magical birthday.
If you qualify for Part D due to a disability, you’ll have a seven-month window where you can apply—so make sure you get on it! The enrollment window for Part D starts three months before you have reached 25 months of that specific disability and ends three months after it.
For example, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B when you first become eligible for it, then your monthly premium price will increase by 10 percent for every year you don’t enroll.
The penalty does add up, so procrastination should be heavily avoided here!
- Second, make sure you’re never more than 63 days in a row without Medicare coverage or other viable coverage (please see policy). Keep all records of former or current employer insurance, Indian Health Service, TRICARE, Veterans Affairs, or other policies. You’ll receive a letter that will let you know whether your coverage is creditable—so make sure you keep this document! It can help you switch successfully to a Medicare plan without a late enrollment penalty by filling out a form by a specific deadline. If you don’t have this documentation, you’ll have to pay the fee.
Avoiding a Penalty: It can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Especially since you’ll most likely be paying a late enrollment penalty for the rest of your life, these fees tend to add up! Make sure you inform yourself about when it’s best to switch Medicare plans as this can help save you money in the long run.
We hope that this article has provided you with sufficient information regarding the specific times and exceptions when switching Medicare programs so you’re able to make a well-informed decision and save you money.
If you’re in need of any more assistance in choosing the Medicare program that works for you, please get in touch with Every Way Health at 877-460-3943 or the customer service team of your local insurance provider, who can help provide you with more helpful insight.