Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) are periods of time outside normal enrollment periods where you can enroll in health insurance. They are typically triggered by specific circumstances.
The Part B SEP is an eight-month period to enroll in Medicare Part B after you no longer have coverage from current work (job-based insurance). Using the Part B SEP also means you will not have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty (LEP).
To use the Part B SEP, you must meet two criteria:
- You must have insurance from current work (from your job, your spouse’s job, or sometimes a family member’s job) or have had such insurance within the past eight months
- And, you must have been continuously covered by job-based insurance or Medicare Part B since becoming eligible for Medicare, including the first month you became eligible for Medicare
- Note: You can have no more than eight consecutive months without coverage from either Medicare or insurance from current work. You are ineligible for the Part B SEP after going for more than eight months without Part B or job-based insurance.
In most cases, you should enroll in Medicare immediately after losing job-based insurance to avoid gaps in coverage. Remember, even if you use the SEP to avoid a late enrollment penalty, you may still be responsible for any health care costs you incur in the months after losing job-based coverage before your Medicare coverage takes effect.