When it comes to your Medicare plans, you have options. You can sign up for Part A and choose to supplement it with Part B, Part C (Medicare Advantage), and a Part D (prescription drug) plan. Ultimately you should evaluate your needs and decide which combination of plans works for you. Luckily, after you’ve made a choice, it’s not finalized for life. If you opted out of your Medicare Part B plan at some point, you can get it back.
Open Enrollment Periods
Each year, there are specific enrollment periods during which you can switch your Medicare plans.
January 1 – March 31: This period is known as the Medicare Advantage open enrollment. During this time, you can make changes to your Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan. You can either switch from one Medicare Advantage plan or provider to another, or you can choose to go back to your original Medicare.
October 15 – December 7: This period is known as the Medicare open enrollment. Within this time frame, you can switch from your Part C (Medicare Advantage) back to your original Medicare. You can also:
- Change the details of your Part C plan (type or provider)
- Add or remove your Medicare Part D plan
- Change the details of your Part D plan (type or provider)
8 Month Special Enrollment: Additionally, some individuals are granted an eight-month period in which they can change their Medicare coverage or re-enroll in original Medicare coverage. You have to qualify for this special enrollment, and it’s typically only granted to individuals who have been through a significant life change, such as divorce, a move, or a spouse passing.
How Do I Re-enroll in Medicare Part B?
Unfortunately, if you previously canceled or disenrolled your Medicare Part B coverage and want to re-enroll, it will often come with a hefty penalty. This penalty is basically guaranteed to apply to you if you’ve had a gap in your coverage.
To re-enroll in Medicare Part B:
- Visit the Social Security Administration website.
- Complete the benefits application.
- Mail all necessary documents to the local Social Security office.
If you already have Medicare Part A coverage and are trying to re-enroll in Part B, you’ll also have to provide evidence of your workplace health plan. Complete the application on the Social Security Administration website, and make sure to mail or fax all necessary documents to your local Social Security office.
If you were under a workplace insurance plan for the entire time you had left Medicare Part B, you’ll likely be able to avoid the late enrollment penalty. First, you’ll be asked to prove that there was no gap in your coverage. Once you do that, you’ll be granted a special enrollment period, during which you can sign up for Medicare Part B without penalty.
When you stop paying your premium payments, you can be disenrolled from the Medicare Part B plan. If this is what happened to you, simply pay all of your fees 30 days from the official termination date to reinstate coverage. If you miss paying it before the 30 days are up, you’ll have to wait until the next Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (January 1 – March 31) to re-enroll.
Alternatively, you can look into the Medicare Good Cause policy, which may allow you to reinstate your policy despite missing payments. This policy may waive missed payments that occurred due to unavoidable circumstances – such as chronic illness, emergency, etc.
When Can I Re-enroll in Medicare Part B?
Medicare plans have specific enrollment periods that you have to abide by. If you missed your initial enrollment for Medicare Part B, your next opportunities depend on the situation:
- If you’re covered through a workplace plan, you can sign up for Medicare Part B at any time.
- If you or your spouse have a disability, you can sign up for Medicare Part B at any time.
- One month after your work insurance ends, your special enrollment period begins. You then have an eight-month window to sign up for Part B.
- In all other situations, you can sign up during the general enrollment period of January 1 to March 31.