UNITED STATES─ Toni: I am a 67-year-old female who never enrolled in Medicare Part B or D because I believe in holistic medicine and only take vitamins. I was under the impression that if I didn’t go to the doctor, I didn’t need to apply for Medicare and could later. Now, I have found a lump in my breast and know I need additional healthcare.

I went to Social Security to help me enroll in Medicare in December and was informed that I must wait until after January 1 to enroll in Medicare because I missed my “window of opportunity.”

What “window of opportunity” did I miss? I have never received any information about this. Thanks, Julie from Memphis.

Julie: The “window of opportunity” that you missed was when you turned 65 and had a 7-month window, which is 3 months before turning 65, the month that you turned 65 and 3 months after turning 65. This special time is called your “Initial Enrollment Period.”

Beginning January 1, you are in the “General Enrollment Period” that is the special time for those that never enrolled in Medicare and begins every year from January 1 and ends March 31. Your Medicare Parts A and/or B will begin July 1 and your Medicare Part B penalty starts July 1 and lasts as long as you are enrolled in Medicare.

Since you are 67, you will receive a Part B penalty which is a 10 percent penalty for each 12-month period; yours will be 20 percent (2 years x 12-month period or 2 years times 10 percent) since you failed to enroll. This 20 percent penalty will never go away and remains in effect for the life of the Medicare beneficiary’s Medicare coverage.

The 2020 Medicare Part B standard premium is $144.60; a beneficiary’s premium would increase by $14.46 for each full year one failed to enroll in Part B. Your penalty will be 14.46 X 2 = $28.92 monthly. This amount changes as Part B premium changes.

Currently, there are over 700,000 Medicare beneficiaries who are receiving a Medicare Part B penalty costing on average $5,000 in Medicare lifetime penalties because they did not understand Medicare enrollment periods.

Medicare enrollment periods are listed below:

  • Medicare Initial Enrollment Period: Begins 3 months before turning 65, the month one turns 65 and 3 months after one turns 65. Once this special time has passed, then Part B and/or Part D penalties can begin when one enrolls later.
  • Special Enrollment Period: Enroll after 65 when delaying Medicare Part B due to working full-time with company benefits. This is an 8-month window of signing up for Part B without receiving a Part B penalty. “Special Enrollment Period” should be written in red on forms acquired from Social Security.
  • General Enrollment Period: January 1-March 31 when one who has not previously enrolled in Part B can enroll in Medicare Part B but WILL receive a Part B penalty.

You never did enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan and will have to wait until the next Medicare Annual Enrollment period which begins October 15 and ends December 7 every year. You will receive the Medicare Part D penalty which is 1 percent or .34 penalty for each month that you have been without Medicare’s Part D Prescription Drug plan. The Part D penalty can be very costly! Do Not Wait to enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. Enroll at the right time! Call the Toni Says® office at 832-519-8664 to schedule a Medicare consultation to avoid mistakes.

Toni King, author of the new Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition is giving a “Holiday” discount for a Medicare Survival Guide and bundle package available only at www.tonisays.com.