4 Medicare Deadlines You Can’t Afford to Miss
Many Americans in or nearing retirement are familiar with Medicare, the federal health insurance program primarily for people age 65 or older. However, many people may not realize that missing key deadlines can result in paying more for these important healthcare benefits over time. To help avoid penalties and higher premiums, keep the following deadlines in mind:1
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) - Your initial enrollment period lasts for 7 months, starting 3 months before you turn 65, and ending 3 months after the month you turn 65. Most people who are already collecting Social Security disability or retirement benefits are automatically enrolled into Medicare Part A and Part B when they’re first eligible. If you’re not receiving Social Security benefits, you can sign up for Part A any time after you turn 65. Most people do not pay for Part A. However, if you miss your IEP, you may have to wait to sign up for Part B and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. In addition, the penalty increases the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you are subject to paying a Part A premium.
- General Enrollment Period (GEP)- The Medicare GEP occurs each year between January 1 and March 31. It’s generally the only time that people who did not sign up during their initial enrollment period and are eligible for Medicare Parts A and/or B can enroll. Coverage starts July 1 for anyone enrolling during the GEP.
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – Participants who elected Medicare Advantage and/or a Part D prescription drug plans may be eligible to make changes to their coverage under a SEP if they experience a qualifying life event, such as a move or the loss of other health insurance coverage. Visit Medicare.gov to review a full list of special circumstances and applicable rules for each SEP.
- Open Enrollment Period (OEP) - Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 - December 7 each year. During the OEP, anyone with Medicare can make changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following calendar year. So, if you’re not happy with your current coverage or costs, the OEP provides an opportunity to make changes to better meet your needs.
What if you’re still working after age 65?
Depending on the size of your employer, if you have job-based health insurance through your (or your spouse’s) current job, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare while you or your spouse are still working. You can wait to sign up until you or your spouse stop working or you lose your health insurance, whichever comes first. There are many important considerations to weigh here, so be sure to visit Medicare.gov to understand your options. To learn about paying for healthcare expenses in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.
Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging
September is National Suicide Prevention Month when community leaders, educators, healthcare advocates, survivors and members of the public seek to bring greater awareness to this topic and the underlying mental health issues often associated with it. While suicide impacts individuals and families across all age groups, many people are surprised to learn that those over age 65 account for about 18% of deaths due to suicide, despite making up only 12% of the population. An estimate 90% of these deaths in seniors are thought to be due to untreated or undertreated depression.1
While it’s natural to occasionally feel down or “blue,” when these feelings persist for weeks or months, it may be time to consult with a healthcare provider. According to the Centers for Disease Control, depression is a treatable medical condition and not a normal part of growing older.2 However, as people age, depression can become more difficult to diagnose. That’s because for many older adults, feelings of sadness may not be a primary symptom. Instead, they may experience a loss of motivation when it comes to tasks of daily living or a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. For others, conditions or circumstances, such as chronic pain, grief, loneliness, anxiety, loss of mobility, or diminished hearing and vision may mask traditional signs of depression.Risk factors for depression among seniors include: 3
- Loss of loved ones
- Isolation/being homebound
- Chronic illness and/or pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Food insecurity
- Financial concerns
- Caregiver stress
Where to find help
If you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms of depression, contact a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated. While there are different types of depression, many effective treatments are available, including prescription medications and therapy.
If you or a loved are experiencing mental health-related distress or are in need of crisis support, don’t delay. Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Available nationwide, 988 is the new, easy-to-remember number for people seeking help for mental health, substance use and suicide crises. The number will connect you with a trained crisis counselor via phone or text. You can also visit 988lifeline.org to chat with a crisis counselor online. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7, including holidays.
This information was written by KRW Creative Concepts, a non-affiliate of the broker-dealer.