Medicare general enrollment period is underway, runs through end of March

Patricia Hafermann • Benefit Specialist

Medicare’s General Enrollment Period (GEP) takes place from January 2 through March 31 of each year. Typically, an individual signs up for Medicare during his initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which is a 7-month window beginning 3 months before and ending 3 months after his 65 birthday. However, if you did not sign up for Medicare during your IEP, you can sign up during the GEP, your coverage will start July 1.

If you are eligible for premium-free Part A, you can sign up for Part A any time during or after your IEP. However, if you have to pay a Part A premium, then you can only sign up during your IEP; then you will be subject to a late enrollment penalty. The penalty will increase your Part A premium by 10 percent and you will be required to pay the higher premium for twice the number of years that you could have had Part A but did not. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 3 years but did not enroll, you would have to pay a higher premium for 6 years.

If you pay a premium for Medicare Part B and you did not sign up during your IEP, then you will be subject to a late enrollment penalty. The penalty will increase your monthly premium by 10 percent for each full year that you were eligible for Part B but did not enroll. The Part B penalty applies for the duration of your Part B enrollment. If you are under age 65 and are Medicare-eligible, you will have a new IEP when you turn 65. If you are assessed a penalty and are low income, talk with your local EBS to be screened for benefits. For more information on the GEP or premium penalties, visit

If you have any additional questions, you may call Pat Hafermann, Elderly Benefits Specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center at (920) 467-4076.

Sources: Published with permission from the Legal Services Team at the Greater Wisconsin

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