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Medicare Part B Enrollment

Summary: Medicare Part B enrollment must be handled correctly to avoid paying the penalty. For many, enrolling in Medicare Part B is simple and automatic. However, the process can still look different for each beneficiary. Working with a licensed insurance agent can help streamline the process. Estimated Read Time: 6 mins

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Table of Contents:

    1. Enrolling in Medicare Part B
    2. Medicare Part B Enrollment Periods
    3. When is Open Enrollment for Medicare Part B?
    4. When Should You Enroll in Medicare Part B if You Miss Your Initial Enrollment Period?
    5. Risks of Late Medicare Part B Enrollment
    6. Are You Automatically Enrolled in Medicare Part B?
    7. How to Enroll in Medicare Part B

When you become eligible for Medicare, you will need to understand when and how to enroll in Medicare Part B. For some, Medicare Part B enrollment is automatic. Meanwhile, others must reach out to Social Security to enroll in health coverage.

Generally, you will enroll in Medicare Part B as soon as you become eligible at age 65. However, deciding when to enroll in Medicare Part B coverage ultimately depends on the coverage you already have. The main goal is to avoid paying the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty.

Below, we review Medicare Part B enrollment, including when you should sign up, the penalty you may face when delaying, and how you can avoid mishaps.

Enrolling in Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B enrollment provides you with benefits for the outpatient care portion of Original Medicare. When you first become eligible for Original Medicare, it is vital to decide if you will enroll in Medicare Part A alone or also enroll in Medicare Part B.

To help with this decision, you will need to review your current coverage. If you plan to continue your coverage past age 65, there are a few essential steps you will need to take. The first is determining whether or not your coverage is creditable for Medicare.

For coverage to be creditable, it must provide at least the same benefits as Original Medicare. Suppose your coverage is not creditable, and you enroll in Medicare Part B.

If you receive Social Security benefits four or more months before your Medicare Part B start date, you will automatically enroll in Medicare Part B. If you do not yet receive Social Security benefits, you must contact your local office to complete the Medicare registration forms.

To enroll in Part B, Medicare beneficiaries must provide the following documentation:

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Social Security card
  • Current (or former) health insurance information
  • Tax information
  • Military documents (if applicable)

Once you complete this step, you will receive your Medicare card in the mail from one to three months before you turn 65. Your card should show your Medicare Part A and Part B start date.

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Medicare Part B Enrollment Periods

There are three enrollment periods during which you can sign up for Medicare Part B. These Medicare Part B enrollment periods include:

  • Initial Enrollment Period
  • Special Enrollment Period
  • General Enrollment Period

Each Medicare Part B enrollment period above has certain circumstances you must meet to enroll.

The Initial Enrollment Period allows you to enroll in Medicare Part B when eligible. The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is individual to you and always begins on the first day of the month three months before you turn 65 and ends on the last day of the month three months after you turn 65.

A Special Enrollment Period allows you to enroll in Medicare Part B when you have creditable coverage. It lasts up to 63 days after losing group or employer coverage.

The Medicare General Enrollment Period happens each year from January 1 to March 31. During this window, anyone who delayed Medicare Part B enrollment without creditable coverage can enroll.

When is Open Enrollment for Medicare Part B?

During Medicare Part B enrollment, you will never need to answer health questions. Thus, any Medicare Part B enrollment period can be considered open as long as you are eligible.

However, many people refer to the General Enrollment Period as the Medicare Part B Open Enrollment Period. This is because anyone over 65 without coverage can engage in Medicare Part B enrollment at this time.

Yet just because you can enroll does not mean you will be relieved of the Medicare Part B penalty if you delay Medicare benefits without creditable coverage.

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When Should You Enroll in Medicare Part B if You Miss Your Initial Enrollment Period?

If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may have other chances for Medicare Part B enrollment. When you have had creditable coverage since becoming eligible, Medicare Part B enrollment can happen once you lose your current group coverage. For this Special Enrollment Period, you will have two months to enroll in Medicare Part B.

Suppose you miss your Special Enrollment Period or delay enrolling in Medicare Part B without creditable coverage. In that case, you will have to wait until the annual General Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare Part B.

Risks of Late Medicare Part B Enrollment

Waiting to sign up for Medicare Part B coverage can come with some risks if not done correctly. Delaying Medicare Part B enrollment without creditable coverage can lead to a hefty Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty.

The penalty is calculated on a 12-month basis.

Thus, if you go 12 months without coverage, you will be penalized a 10% increase to the base Part B premium. For each additional 12-month period, another 10% penalty will be assessed on top of one another each month. This penalty is permanent for as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B.

To avoid this penalty, enrolling as soon as you become eligible is vital.

Are You Automatically Enrolled in Medicare Part B?

The majority of beneficiaries will enroll in Medicare Part B automatically. This is all part of the Welcome to Medicare package received three months before your 65th birthday. Beneficiaries who qualify for coverage due to disability are also normally enrolled automatically.

During this time, you’ll have a chance to either keep or get rid of your Part B coverage. Again, a penalty will be applied if you do not sign up as soon as possible. Those eligible for coverage in Puerto Rico need to contact Social Security, as Part A benefits are automatic, but Part B benefits are not.

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How to Enroll in Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B enrollment can be completed in a variety of ways. You can send the necessary forms to your local Social Security office through either the mail or by fax. You can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (1-800-325-0778 for TTY users) or enroll online. However, if you don’t want to face it alone, you have options.

When you are ready to enroll in Medicare Part B, it is essential to have a licensed agent by your side who understands all aspects of the federal healthcare program. Medicare can be confusing, so no one should have to navigate it alone. Here’s how to enroll in Medicare Part B with minimal hassle.

Sign Up During Your Initial Enrollment Period

It’s always recommended that you sign up for Medicare Part B as soon as you are eligible. For many, this means when you are turning 65. If you work with a licensed insurance agent, you can easily sign up for Part B coverage and explore a wider range of your Medicare options at the same time. Signing up during this time will help you avoid the Medicare Part B penalty.

Use Your General Enrollment Period if You Delay Coverage

You can delay Medicare Part B coverage, even if you don’t have credible coverage. However, if you change your mind and wish to enroll but have missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you can still sign up during your General Enrollment Period. Considering you’ll face the Part B penalty, it’s still a good idea to think about working with an agent to help you navigate your enrollment.

If You Had Creditable Coverage, Sign Up During Your Special Enrollment Period

For some, delaying Part B is possible without facing the penalty. In order to qualify, you’ll need to maintain credible coverage while delaying Part B coverage. When it’s time to enroll in Medicare Part B, you can contact Social Security as you would otherwise, but again, if you want to be sure you’re getting all of the information you can, working with an agent can prove to be beneficial.

At MedicareFAQ, we are more than just a great resource and education hub. We provide our clients with comprehensive support from a licensed insurance agent whenever needed.

Our services are always free but have no obligation. To receive a plan comparison, press the compare plans button. You can also speak with an agent immediately by calling the number above for immediate assistance with Medicare Part B enrollment.

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Sources

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare guru serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

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