Published June 2, 2020
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If the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak impacted your ability to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare coverage, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
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Two Special Enrollment Periods are being granted to qualified individuals who were unable to enroll in or make changes to coverage because of shutdowns related to the Coronavirus pandemic.
One Special Enrollment Period is for individuals looking to enroll in Original Medicare, which consists of Medicare Part A and/or Part B.
The second Special Enrollment Period is for those wanting to enroll in or make changes to Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D or Medicare/Medicaid plans.
The Special Enrollment Period for those who are enrolling in Original Medicare is retroactive to March 17 and lasts until June 17.
The Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medicare/Medicaid plans is retroactive to March 1 and lasts until June 30.
In order to qualify for the Original Medicare Special Enrollment Period, you must have been in your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), General Enrollment Period or another Special Enrollment Period between March 17 and June 17 and did not submit an enrollment request to the Social Security Administration.
In other words, if you were eligible to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time at any point between March 17 and June 17 but did not do so, you may be eligible for this Special Enrollment Period.
In order to qualify for the Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medicare/Medicaid plans, you must have had a valid enrollment period between March 17 and June 30 and did not make any changes to your coverage at this time.
Valid enrollment periods include your IEP, another Special Enrollment Period or the Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period that occurs each fall.
|For either enrollment period, it is not required to show any proof that you failed to take enrollment action due to COVID-19. Qualification is based on the above criteria.|
If you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Original Medicare, you will be able to:
Here is what you can do during the Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medicare/Medicaid plans:
Here is what you may not do during these Special Enrollment Periods:
Here’s how to take advantage of these Special Enrollment Periods and enroll in or make changes to your coverage, if you qualify.
If enrolling in Medicare Part A for the first time, you may do one of the following:
If enrolling Medicare Part B, you may do one of the following:
For help with Part A and/or Part B enrollment, you may call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users may call 1-877-486-2048.
If enrolling in or making changes to Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D or a Medicare/Medicaid plan, you may do one of the following:
If you sign up for or make changes to your coverage during either of these Special Enrollment Periods, your coverage will be effective retroactive to the date that the coverage would have begun under the original enrollment period for which you were eligible.
There are several Medicare enrollment periods that happen at the same time of the year every single year. Then there are Special Enrollment Periods.
A Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is not a scheduled enrollment period. In other words, they may be granted at any time of the year due to certain circumstances. A Special Enrollment Period may be granted to just one individual or they may be granted to a large group of individuals, such as the case with the COVID-19 SEP.
Some of the circumstances that may warrant a Special Enrollment Period include:
In the case of COVID-19, the government is granting a Special Enrollment Period to all Medicare beneficiaries who were affected by the pandemic. These Special Enrollment Periods are sometimes granted during pandemics and weather disasters.
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
Where you've seen coverage of Christian's research and reports: