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Medicare is extending its offer of relief from penalties for certain Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled in Medicare Part A and had coverage through the individual marketplace. Beneficiaries who qualify will be able to enroll in Medicare Part B without paying a penalty for late enrollment if they enroll by September 30, 2018.

Individuals who do not enroll in Medicare Part B when they first become eligible face a stiff penalty, unless they are still working and their employer’s plan is considered “primary.” For each year that these individuals put off enrolling, their monthly premium increases by 10 percent — permanently.

Some people with marketplace plans — that is, plans purchased by individuals or families, not through employers — did not enroll in Medicare Part B when they were first eligible and would face a late enrollement penalty because marketplace plansa re not considered equivalent coverage to Medicare Part B.

To address this problem, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is allowing individuals who enrolled in Medicare Part A and had coverage through a marketplace plan to enroll in Medicare Part B without a penalty. It is also allowing individuals who dropped marketplace coverage and are paying a late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B to reduce their penalty. In addition, CMS is now expanding the offer of possible relief to people who should have signed up for Part B during a special enrollment period that ended Oct. 1, 2013 or later but instead used exchange plans. It is also extending the deadline to September 30, 2018 (the earlier deadline was September 30, 2017).

To be eligible for the relief, the individual must:

Have an initial Medicare enrollment period that began on or after April 1, 2013; or

Have been notified on or after October 1, 2013 that they were retroactively eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A; or

Have a Part B Special Enrollment Period that ended on or after October 1, 2013 .

This offer is available for only a short time. Eligible individuals must request relief by September 30, 2018. Individuals who are eligible should: (1) gather documentation have to prove enrollment in a marketplace plan; and (2) contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or visit a local Social Security office and request to take advantage of the “equitable relief.”

For more information, click here.

For more information about Medicare’s late-enrollment penalties, click here.