There's a little more than a month left to enroll this year.

5 minute read

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans know healthcare and health insurance coverage is more important than ever, now is a good time to take a closer look at whether you need to change your Medicare plans and coverage.

Medicare enrollment for 2023 is open from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2022. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare, now is the period when you’re allowed to make any changes to your Medicare coverage. If you’re not enrolled and missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll during the Medicare open enrollment period.

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1. You can enroll if you missed your Initial Coverage Election Period

You can enroll if you missed your Initial Coverage Election Period

Most people aren’t eligible for Medicare until they turn age 65, but you can enroll in Medicare up to three months in advance of your birthday during what’s known as your Initial Enrollment Period. This period covers the three months leading up to your 65th birthday, the birthday month, and the three following months.

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period this year, you can still enroll in Medicare during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

Find out: 5 Things to Know About 2020 Health Insurance Open Enrollment

2. Original Medicare comes in two parts

Original Medicare comes in two parts

Original Medicare comes in two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital insurance for which you pay no premium – as long as you’ve paid payroll taxes for 10 years or longer. However, Part B, which is medical insurance, does have a premium. In 2022, the Part B premium was $170.10 but could be higher based on income.

Find out: 5 Things That Can Cause You to Overpay on Medical Bills – and How to Avoid Them

3. Not everyone needs to enroll to get Original Medicare

Not everyone needs to enroll to get Original Medicare

Most people who are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board for at least four months before they turn 65 (in most cases) will automatically start getting Medicare Part A and Part B beginning on the first day of the month they turn 65. If their birthday falls on the 1st of the month, Parts A and B will start the first day of the previous month.

Find out: Controlling Healthcare Costs That Can Lead to Debt

4. Medicare has a total of four parts

Medicare has a total of four parts

Medicare comes in four parts. In addition to Parts A and B, the other two optional parts are Part D prescription drug coverage or Part C, Medicare Advantage Plans (MA Plan) that include Medicare parts A, B, and D. You will have to pay a premium for Medicare Advantage Plans or Part D prescription drug coverage plans.

Find out: How Medicare Part D Can Save You Big Bucks on Medications

5. You can buy certain Medicare plans only through private insurers

You can buy certain Medicare plans only through private insurers

You can only purchase Medicare Part C or Part D insurance plans through private insurance companies. You can shop for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans on the Medicare Plan Finder or the websites of private insurance companies offering those plans.

Find out: Should You Pay Student Loans or Health Insurance?

6. You may want to purchase Medigap insurance

You may want to purchase Medigap insurance

Medigap insurance, which is offered by private companies, is different from Medicare Advantage Plans, which offer more extensive coverage. A Medigap policy is additional insurance that covers the “gaps” that Original Medicare won’t pay such as copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. You must pay a premium for Medigap insurance. To shop for a plan, visit Medicare Plan Finder.

Medigap plans for those enrolled after Jan. 1, 2020 aren’t allowed to cover the Part B deductible, but those enrolled prior to that date may be able to buy a Medigap plan that does. Important: If you also have a Medicare Advantage Plan, your Medigap policy can’t be used to pay the MA Plan’s copayments, deductibles and premiums.

Find out: How Medical Debt Settlement Can Help You Pay Less Than You Owe

7. You can change Medicare plan(s) only during open enrollment

You can change Medicare plan(s) only during open enrollment

If you want to add or remove coverage on your Original Medicare plan, you’re allowed to make changes only during open enrollment periods. For example, maybe you signed up for Original Medicare initially but now want to add a Medicare Advantage plan or prescription drug coverage. Or, maybe you’ve decided you don’t need a Medicare Advantage plan and want to remove it.

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can also switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan, or switch back to Original Medicare or add a separate Medicare prescription plan during the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year.

8. You can opt out of Part B

You can opt out of Part B

If you have other health insurance through your spouse or an employer, you can choose to not enroll in Part B and avoid paying the premium if you don’t yet need that coverage. However, if you don’t get Part B when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty on all future Part B premiums if you sign up later.

If you want to add Part B later, you must wait to make the change until the annual Medicare open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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