4 Big Consequences For Signing Up Late For Medicare

As the population ages, many Americans are reaching the age where they become eligible for Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for people 65 or older. However, some people may not sign up for Medicare immediately due to misinformation, procrastination, or other reasons. Unfortunately, delaying enrollment in Medicare can have serious financial consequences.

The first thing to understand is that Medicare has a specific enrollment period. This period begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after it. This is known as the “Initial Enrollment Period” (IEP). If you miss your IEP, you may still be able to enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP), which runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. However, there are penalties for enrolling late.

Here are the penalties you need to be aware of: 

#1 Higher Premium For Life

When you sign up late for Medicare, you’ll have a permanent increase in your monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which takes care of doctor visits and outpatient care. Your Medicare Part B premium may increase by 10% for each 12-month period you weren’t enrolled in Medicare Part B. For example, if you delay enrollment for two years, your premium will be 20% higher than the standard premium. This premium increase is permanent, meaning you’ll pay more every month for the rest of your life.

#2 Potential Lack Of Coverage

In addition to higher premiums, there are other financial consequences of delaying Medicare enrollment. If you do not enroll in Medicare Part B during your IEP, you may have to wait until your next GEP, which means you’ll be without coverage for several months. During this time, you’ll be responsible for paying all medical expenses. If you have chronic health problems requiring regular medical attention, this can be a significant financial burden.

#3 Loss of Eligibility For Certain Types of Coverage

Delaying Medicare enrollment can also affect your eligibility for certain types of coverage. For example, if you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B, there is a possibility that you won’t be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Medicare Part D). Private insurance companies offer these plans, which come with extra benefits above and beyond what original Medicare covers. However, to enroll in these plans, you must already have Medicare Parts A and B.

#4 Ability To Purchase Medigap

Furthermore, signing up for Medicare late can also affect your ability to purchase supplemental insurance, known as Medigap. In addition to copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, Medigap policies cover some out-of-pocket costs not covered by original Medicare. However, insurance companies can deny coverage or charge higher premiums if you enroll in Medigap after your IEP.


There are some exceptions to the penalties for late enrollment in Medicare. For example, if you have coverage through an employer-sponsored health plan or your spouse’s employer-sponsored health plan, you may be able to delay enrollment in Medicare without penalty. However, you must enroll in Medicare within eight months of losing your employer-sponsored coverage to avoid penalties.

In conclusion, delaying enrollment in Medicare can have serious financial consequences. Not only will you have to pay higher premiums for the rest of your life, but you may also have to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses when you’re not enrolled in Medicare. Additionally, delaying enrollment can affect your eligibility for other types of coverage, such as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug, and Medigap plans. Therefore, it’s important to understand the Medicare enrollment rules and enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid penalties and ensure you have access to the healthcare benefits you need.