2023 Medicare General Enrollment Period Changes
The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) was designed to be punitive, very punitive, resulting in a gap in coverage and often lifetime premium penalties for Medicare Part B. Today’s video is about GEP changes that take effect in 2023. Enrolling in Medicare during the GEP will continue to be punitive but less so.
A quick refresher: Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is around one’s 65th birthday. Medicare’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is for those who work at 65 and beyond and extends from the end of one’s IEP (three months after the month of one’s 65th birthday) to eight months beyond one’s retirement date or loss of active group coverage, whichever comes first.
The General Enrollment Period is for those who missed either the Initial or Special Enrollment Period windows. The GEP is the first quarter of every year and historically resulted in a Medicare Part B effective date the following July 1st as well as premium penalties of 10 percent for each full 12-month period one could have been on Medicare Part B and wasn’t (essentially retroactive to one’s 66th birthday).
THE 2023 CHANGE
Although the penalties are not going away, the GEP gap in coverage is being reduced so that Part B coverage will take effect the first of the month following enrollment. We applaud this change but wish that Part B coverage could be made effective retroactive to the date of enrollment. Medical and hospital services are largely unaffordable outside the protection of coverage so we don’t understand the societal purpose in perpetuating a gap in coverage.
In addition, our eternal distress over those assessed Medicare Part B lifetime premium penalties as a result of electing COBRA continues. Why should any penalty be assessed to those who maintained continuous coverage? And in light of new 2023 directives which allow those who recently elected COBRA to avoid these premium penalties if they didn’t receive effective communication about Medicare from their former employers or health plan, it only seems fair to eliminate the penalties. The whole notion of ensnaring people for not understanding the complexities of how these two sources of coverage, Medicare and COBRA, interact with one another defies belief.
Those who elected COBRA at 65 or later, postponed enrolling in Medicare and thus saved taxpayer dollars. Punishing them seems terribly unfair and punishing them with lifetime premium penalties when COBRA can only be 18 months for the worker brings to mind the “punishment should fit the crime,” except to say “there’s been no crime, of course.” Or just change the system entirely so COBRA is not offered to those 65 and over. There is no Part D penalty for staying on COBRA so why shouldn’t Part B penalties be eliminated? It all seems rather Kafkaesque – not an approach one would expect to be associated with those who’ve worked hard and paid into the system their entire adult lives. And, to date, federal government retirees eligible for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program are not required to enroll in Medicare Part B. Many do, of course, but that federal government retirees aren’t even required to enroll in Medicare Part B and other Americans are severely penalized for electing COBRA and deferring Medicare just doesn’t pass the “smell test.”
But, back on point, the coverage gap is being shortened but penalties remain.
In sum, we always take any good news that comes along but our advice remains the same: plan ahead, understand enrollment rules as they apply to you, study your options and act timely.
Thank you for watching and spread the word.