January begins the annual General Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B. If you have to buy Part A and didn’t take it when eligible, or didn’t take Part B medical coverage when first eligible, or if you cancelled your Medicare and you now want it back, you may sign up between January 1-March 31. Your coverage won’t start until July 1, and you may have to pay higher premiums for late enrollment. You may enroll through Social Security or their website. 

If you are still working when you become Medicare eligible, check with your employer or union to find out how your workplace coverage works with Medicare. This includes federal or state employment and active-duty military service. There are also special rules for COBRA, Retirees, VA users, TRICARE, and Marketplace Health Plan users. 

During this same period, Medicare Advantage plan users can switch either to another Medicare Advantage Plan, or return to Original Medicare. If you return to Original Medicare, you need to also enroll in a Part D prescription plan. 

There are several major brand name Medicare Advantage plans which are advertised heavily on local TV stations. These plans DO NOT work at our local hospitals! Please verify that all your specialists, doctors, and the local hospital participate with your specific Medicare Advantage plan. NOW is your last chance to make changes, or you may be stuck with that plan all year. 

Persons who have the “Extra Help” program to help with prescription costs may also be able to make changes at other times of the year—special rules apply.  Your MMAP counselors can help you navigate these ins and outs! Call 1-800-803-7174.   

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