There are a few ways to apply for Medicare in Missouri, but before applying you must be eligible for the Medicare program. That means that you need to meet certain criteria set by CMS. Usually, the criteria are universal on the federal level, for all states applied. The criteria are to be a United States citizen or a permanent legal resident living in the United States for at least five years in a row; be 65 years old or older, or have been receiving Social Security Disability Insurance for at least 24 months, or have been diagnosed with End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Lou Gehrig`s disease (ALS).
When the time comes and you met the criteria for eligibility, you will probably want to be informed about all the ways to a Medicare application. Expect your Medicare cards to be mailed to you three months before your 65th birthday, together with instructions on how to enroll in parts of Medicare. So, there are several Medicare Enrollment periods that need to get to your attention.
Initial Enrollment Period
You are expected to enroll in Original Medicare during your IEP – which begins three months before your 65th birthday and lasts for seven months. During this period you have to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. If you missed enrolling during this seven-month period then you will have to wait for General Enrollment Period (unless you qualify for Special Enrollment). But in that case, there is the possibility that you will be required to pay a late enrollment penalty fee.
General Enrollment Period
This period of Medicare enrollment occurs every year from January 1st to March 31st. If you apply for Medicare during this period, your coverage will start the month after you signed up for Medicare. The general enrollment period is designed for individuals who missed applying during their Initial Enrollment period and did not qualify for a Special Enrollment. But be aware that there is the possibility that you will be charged with late enrollment fee for missing your Initial Enrollment.
Special Enrollment Period
This period of Medicare enrollment is designed for people who are getting coverage through their employers. But you can qualify for Special enrollment if you are a volunteer who is serving in a foreign country or if you have TRICARE. In both cases, you first need to contact Social Security Administration to make sure that your situation makes you eligible. The Special Enrollment period lasts for eight months and starts in the month after employment or employee health coverage terminates. It is important to know that if you missed your Initial enrollment period and you qualify for the Special Enrollment period, there will be no late enrollment penalty applied.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period
This enrollment period occurs every year in the fall (October 15 – December 7) and is designed only for changes in current coverage. This change includes changing from regular Medicare coverage (Original Medicare – Parts A and B) to Medicare Advantage (with or without Part D); changing Medicare Advantage plans, or separate Part D prescription plans. All changes made during this period will become effective on January 1st following year.
Late Enrollment Penalties
If you missed enrollment during your Initial enrollment period, and you do not qualify for Special enrollment, there is the possibility that you will be required to pay a late enrollment penalty. Originally, this penalty is created to deter people from missing their Initial enrollment period. Because of this, you are required to enroll in Medicare for designed periods of time. A penalty fee will vary based on the part for which you enroll late and the length of time you did not have coverage (starting from your birthday). Each part of Medicare has its own penalty fees and rules applied to it.
If you or your spouse worked for 10 years (or 40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes, you will receive Medicare Part A without paying a monthly premium. But if you are not automatically enrolled in Part A, then you will have to pay the premium. If you apply for Medicare Part A after your IEP, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty. As for the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part A, your premium will be increased for a period of twice the amount of time you went without Part A while you were eligible. For example, if you delay your Part A enrollment for a whole year, your penalties will last for two years.
If you are not automatically enrolled in Part B and you do not apply when you are first eligible for it, you can be subject to a late penalty. You will have to pay the penalty for as long as you have the plan. The late enrollment penalty could go up to 10% for every 12-month period you were eligible for the plan but did not apply for. For example, if you delayed enrollment for two years before applying for a Part B plan, you will be required to pay 20% of your premium, for as long as you are enrolled in it.
Part D Penalty
The late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part D is 1% of the beneficiaries’ average monthly premium, multiplied by the number of late months you did not apply. The Part D penalty starts if the beneficiary did not enroll within the first three months their Original Medicare plan becomes active. It is important to keep in mind that this penalty is permanent, like the Part B penalty.