Our Story and More

We are in the Annual Medicare General Enrollment Period

Dear Colleague,

Our marketing professionals tell us that readership tends to fall off slightly prior to long weekends. As a result, in observance of Presidents Day, we have reposted educational material below with edits and updates as appropriate. We’ll see you next week with a new topic.

The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is the first quarter of every year. The GEP was designed to be punitive, very punitive, resulting in a gap in coverage and often lifetime premium penalties for Medicare Part B. The GEP was originally designed to be punitive to encourage people to sign up for Medicare as soon as they were eligible and not wait until they are sick. Today’s video includes GEP changes that took effect in 2023. Enrolling in Medicare during the GEP continues to be punitive but is now less punitive in terms of the gap in coverage which is good news.

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. Again, the GEP is the first quarter of every year. Until last year, enrolling in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period resulted in a Medicare Part B effective date the following July 1st (which was terrible) as well as premium penalties of ten percent for each full twelve-month period one could have been on Medicare Part B and wasn’t (essentially retroactive to one’s 66th birthday).


Although the penalties remain, the GEP gap in coverage was 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 any 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?

Those who elected COBRA at 65 or later, postponed enrolling in Medicare and thus saved tax-payer dollars. Punishing them seems terribly unfair and punishing them with lifetime premium penalties when COBRA can only be eighteen 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 in to 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.” And employers are complicating matters by often offering subsidized COBRA without understanding the implications for Medicare.

But, back on point, the coverage gap has been shortened but penalties remain. Don’t miss this year’s General Enrollment Period if you need to be on Part B. That will only increase your penalty. In sum, 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.