NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2016

Last Chance for Eligible Individuals to Enroll in Medicare Part B
— General Enrollment Period Ends March 31 —

New York, NY—Consumers who are eligible for Medicare Part B but have not yet enrolled should do so before March 31, when this year’s General Enrollment Period (GEP) ends. Consumers who enroll in Medicare during the GEP will have coverage effective July 1, 2016.

Consumers who did not enroll in Medicare Part B when they originally became eligible will have to pay a premium penalty for every year they delayed enrolling. Medicare Part B covers a range of services, including doctor visits and outpatient therapy.

“If you have not enrolled in Medicare Part B and are eligible, time is running out to sign up,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “Time and time again we hear from callers to our helpline who did not enroll in Medicare Part B when they first became eligible.

“The complex rules that govern how employer and retiree health insurance coordinate with Medicare often create a perfect storm of confusion for consumers about when to enroll in Part B. People who do not enroll at the right time, may find themselves exposed to a gap in coverage and be subject to a lifetime Part B premium penalty, once they do gain Part B coverage.”

Most people who are eligible for Medicare enroll during their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), the seven-month period surrounding their 65th birthday. However, some people have a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in Medicare after their IEP has passed.

Consumers are eligible for an SEP if they or their spouse had group health coverage through a current employer at the time they became eligible for Medicare. In such cases, they can typically enroll in Medicare without penalty at any time while they still have group health coverage from a current employer, and for eight months after they lose their group health coverage or they or their spouse stop working, whichever comes first.

Individuals whose IEP has passed and do not qualify for an SEP can only enroll in Medicare Part B during the GEP, which runs through March 31. They will not have another chance to enroll until next year’s GEP: January 1 – March 31, 2017, for coverage effective July 1, 2017.

To enroll in Medicare, consumers should contact their local Social Security office or apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

For more information, go to Medicare Interactive (www.medicareinteractive.org), the Medicare Rights Center’s free web-based counseling tool. Visit Medicare Interactive to learn more about:

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

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