I missed my Initial Enrollment Period so am now planning to enroll this month during the General Enrollment Period. I’ve been hearing conflicting information about it from my family and friends, though. Has the General Enrollment Period changed?
-Rob (Indianapolis, IN)
Yes, there has been a major change to the General Enrollment Period (GEP), as of January 1, 2023. This may explain why you’ve heard some conflicting information about this enrollment period recently. Hopefully I can clear up any confusion for you!
First, the GEP takes place January 1 through March 31 each year. As you mentioned, the GEP is usually for people who missed their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
When you enroll during the GEP, there’s a good chance you’ll owe a premium penalty for not enrolling sooner. Because of this, using the GEP to enroll is not ideal.
Also, before 2023, if you enrolled during the GEP, your Medicare Part B would not start until July 1. This meant that even if you signed up with Social Security on January 1, your coverage would not be effective until July 1—six months later. That’s a long time to wait for health insurance!
Thanks to the passage of key parts of the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, though, this months-long waiting period has been eliminated. As of January 1, 2023, enrollments made during the GEP are effective the first of the next month. This means that if you enroll in Medicare on January 20, for example, your coverage will be effective on February 1—not July 1 like in past years.
This is a big win for the Medicare program and its beneficiaries! It will also be great for you, Rob, when you use the GEP to enroll this year. Best of luck!