The annual Medicare general enrollment period ends March 31, so if you have been thinking about getting Part B now is the time.
If you miss this year’s enrollment period, you can’t enroll until the next General Enrollment Period, which runs Jan. 1 through March 31 each year.
There are many reasons to consider enrolling in Medicare, such as:
• Health insurance protects you from the full cost of covered medical treatment
• VA and IHS are not actually health insurance even though they provide medical services
• Even if you continue to get your care through the VA or IHS the ability to charge Medicare for your care strengthens those programs
• You may have an easier time getting in to see specialists or other doctors
• Enrolling in Part B keeps you from accruing penalties for not having health insurance
• The Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) are a strategy for eligible people to avoid the Part B late enrollment penalty
If you did not enroll in Medicare when you turned 65 you may be hesitating to sign up now because of penalties.
You may be able to avoid penalties if you qualify for a Medicare Savings Program (MSP). This is a partial Medicaid program, so there are income and asset guidelines, but it is definitely worth applying since in addition to paying the monthly Part B premium and possibly your copays and coinsurance (depending on your eligibility) it will also cover any penalties you have accrued by declining Part B in the past.
Contact your local Social Security Administration office to apply for Medicare. Income Support Division has applications for MSPs.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center (800-432-2080) can also send you a MSP application, as well as answering any other questions you may have.
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