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Medicare Enrollment Opportunity Extended for Marketplace Enrollees

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a year-long extension, through September 30, 2018, of a critical exception for certain Marketplace enrollees who delayed or declined Medicare enrollment. This process—known as time-limited equitable relief—lifts the burden of lifetime late enrollment penalties and gaps in health coverage for people with Marketplace plans who mistakenly missed signing up for Medicare.

The extension provides welcome relief to Marketplace enrollees who have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity. The relief may include retroactive or immediate Medicare Part B enrollment and a reduction in or elimination of Medicare Part B late enrollment penalties. People who were or are enrolled in Marketplace coverage and who are entitled to premium-free Medicare Part A can apply for this relief through the end of September 2018.

Last month, the Medicare Rights Center teamed up with more than 40 health insurers and advocates on a letter to CMS urging an extension of the time-limited equitable relief deadline. The signed organizations expressed concerns about delays stemming from a lack of awareness of the process, certain populations being notified about the relief opportunity only recently, and upcoming segments of people who may need this respite in 2018.

In a recent statement, Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center said, “With [this] announcement, CMS heeded the call of consumer advocates, insurers, and health care providers who agreed that this important relief should be extended. Our national helpline continues to help people apply for time-limited equitable relief. People hampered by costly penalties and going without needed health care will benefit from today’s smart decision. We applaud CMS for doing right by people new to Medicare, and we look forward to working with our agency partners, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), local Social Security Offices, and others to help people access this critical relief.”

For more information on time-limited equitable relief and how to apply:

  • Visit Medicare Interactive, the Medicare Rights’ free online counseling tool
  • Read the Fact Sheet made available by CMS
  • Call the Medicare Rights’ free national helpline at 1-800-333-4114
  • Find your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-839-2675 or by going to
  • Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, or go to, or visit your local Social Security office

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