As seniors during the coronavirus pandemic face issues such as loneliness, social isolation and food insecurity, an added source of stress for some may be trying to enroll in Medicare, especially if they or their spouses have lost employer-based insurance. And Medicare Advantage plans are uniquely positioned to educate people over the age of 65 who may qualify for a Medicare special enrollment period (SEP).
When the Medicare program was established in 1965, most people turning 65 were automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B because they began receiving Social Security benefits. Now, with many Americans working longer and delaying their Social Security benefits, the average age of those enrolling in Medicare is closer to 67 and a half, according to a recent Gorman Health Group webinar. And once Medicare-eligible individuals are beyond their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), a seven-month window that opens three months before a person turns 65, they face a different set of rules and processes that could lead to lifetime financial penalties for enrolling late in Part B, according to the nonprofit organization Medicare Rights Center.