Open Enrollment is an event occurring yearly when people are able to enroll in a health insurance plan of their choosing. Older Vermonter’s can begin the enrollment process on October 15th.
The Open Enrollment Period, also known as the Annual Enrollment Period, occurs every fall. This is the time to go over your medical coverage for the upcoming year and if necessary, change your Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan for January 1st, 2024. The Open Enrollment Period also gives individuals an opportunity to enroll into a Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D for those who do not have Medicare drug coverage.
Who is Eligible for Medicare
You are eligible for Medicare when you are 65 years of age or older. You are eligible for Medicare under the age of 65 after two-years of Social Security Disability, or if you have a diagnosis of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) without a waiting period. You are eligible for Medicare at any age with a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease. You must be a U.S. Citizen or be legally present in the United States to be eligible for Medicare.
When are you Eligible?
Older Vermonters can enroll in Medicare up to three months before turning 65, the month you turn 65 or the three-months after you turn 65, however coverage may be delayed if you wait. If you are getting Social Security benefits through early retirement or through Social Security Disability, your enrollment into Parts A and B are automatic. For those who are automatically enrolled, an initial enrollment packet with the Medicare card will be mailed three-months before your Medicare starts.
According to Medicare.gov, most people enroll in Medicare Part A, which is hospital insurance, and Part B, which is Medical Insurance. It is vital to sign up during the Open Enrollment Period because if you sign up late, you could face a penalty fee and delay coverage even longer. If you defer enrollment and do not have an active employer group health plan, you are at risk for a Late Enrollment Penalty for Part B. You may be at risk for a Late Enrollment Penalty for Part D if you defer enrollment and do not have any form of creditable drug coverage.
If you have deferred Medicare when you retire, you can enroll into Medicare based on the loss of an active employer plan. You have within eight-months of the loss of the employer coverage to enroll in Part A and/or Part B at Social Security.
You do not need to enroll into a Medicare drug plan when you have some form of creditable drug coverage. Creditable Coverage means other prescription drug coverage that is as good as a Medicare drug plan. For example, you may have creditable coverage through an employer plan, a retirement plan or the Veterans Administration. If you have creditable coverage and lose it, you get a 2 month Special Enrollment Period to enroll into Medicare drug coverage. SHIP can help you find Medicare drug coverage.
How Age Well Can Help you with Medicare
Age Well offers free impartial counseling to compare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage plans during the Open Enrollment period. Age Well is offering one virtual Open Enrollment presentation on October 4th from 10-11:30, to signup please contact the Helpline at Age Well at 1-800-642-5119.
Additionally, Age Well is partnering with the Heineberg Senior Center for a presentation on September 26th and with New England Federal Credit Union on October 11th. Signup for those events can be done directly with Heineberg Senior Center or NEFCU directly.
Upcoming Open Enrollment Classes
October 4th, 2023: Age Well Virtual Open Enrollment 10:00 am – 11:30 am
New to Medicare Classes
New to Medicare classes are also being presented online by Sharon O’Neill. This class is available every other Wednesday from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. These classes pause during the Open Enrollment period and will resume in January. These classes teach participants how to:
• Transition to Medicare from Vermont Health Connect, or Employer Group Health Insurance.
• Compare options for Medicare coverage including Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans and drug coverage.
• Enroll in Medicare Medigap (Supplemental) coverage.
• Protect yourself against Medicare fraud
All who are new to Medicare and turning 65, losing credible employer coverage, or disabled for two years are eligible to register. Participants will be learning about the process and decisions related to enrolling in Medicare.
To learn more and sign up call the Helpline at 1-800-642-5119 or e-mail [email protected]. Classes are free but donations are always appreciated.