Beneficiaries eligible for their Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) are sometimes told that they should elect medical coverage at the beginning of their 7-month window, but can defer their decision to elect Part D until the end of the election period. CMS grants one election per election period, and will recognize that an election is made once a Medicare plan becomes effective. The effective date for medical coverage should be the same as the effective date for Part D coverage (if the beneficiary purchases a Part D plan.)

Example: Mary’s ICEP runs May 1- November 30. Mary chooses a medical plan effective August 1, 2013. Mary’s agent tells her that she can save money on her premiums by waiting to elect her Part D plan until November, for a December 1 effective date. When Mary submits her Part D application in November, it is rejected by CMS because Mary does not have a valid election period; she has already used her one ICEP election.

Bottom line: Be sure your advisor is truly a Medicare specialist and not just doing this on the side.  Sometimes what seems like a great idea can cost a lot of money in penalties or out of pocket costs when you suddenly find yourself without the coverage you expected.

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