Does Medicare Have a Waiting Period?

Medicare has a reasonably quick waiting period compared to other insurance policies. Many insurance policies require years of premium payments before the policy goes into effect. The case is different for Medicare.

Waiting period for those receiving Social Security and disability benefits

If you’re receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, the only waiting you have to do is waiting until the month you turn 65. In roughly three months before your 65th birthday, a Medicare card will automatically be mailed to you. You may not be able to use it right away, but it’s worth holding onto. It becomes active on the very first day of the month you turn 65 (exception – if your birthday falls on the first of the month, then your Medicare benefits begin the first day of the month prior to your 65th birthday month).

For those receiving disability benefits, they automatically get Medicare coverage after 24 months of getting those benefits. This is the only time a person can get Medicare under 65.

Joining during the Initial Enrollment Period

This is the second fastest way to get effective Medicare coverage. The Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before the month a person turns 65. It also includes the month the individual turns 65, and lasts until the three months after the birth month.

Here are the effective coverage dates based on the months you join during this period: 

  • First three months – coverage begins on the first day of the month you turn 65 (or if your birthday falls on the first, then it will be the first day of the previous month). Your policy becomes effective the moment you’re eligible.
  • The month of your 65th birthday – one month later
  • The month after your 65th birthday – two months later
  • The second and third month after your 65th birthday – three months later

General Enrollment Period

If you wait past your Initial Enrollment Period, you will have to wait until the next enrollment period comes around, and then wait for the coverage to become effective after that.

The General Enrollment Period lasts from January 1 to March 31. In this case, you would have to wait until July 1.

Special Enrollment

Sometimes you are not able to join during these periods because of the circumstances in your life. This period is known as the Special Enrollment Period. Now, this mainly applies to Medicare Advantage, but it is worth mentioning, because if you wait past this enrollment period, you will be subject to having to wait for both another enrollment period and effective coverage after joining. For example, If you lose your employer’s group health coverage or move back into the country, your chance to join Medicare Advantage lasts two months after the month those events happen. This doesn’t have a specified waiting period, as unpredictable life events do not exclusively take place from January 1 to March 31.

Don’t miss out

With Temmen Insurance, you don’t have to wait to get help from one of our professionals, because quality customer service has no waiting period. We can set you up with the Medicare plan you need right now. All you have to do is call us today at 417-633-7200.

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