Medicare
Enrollment Periods

When To Enroll In Medicare

There are certain periods when you can join, modify or drop the different parts of Medicare (A, B, C, and D). You are not allowed to enroll or dis-enroll whenever you want. These enrollment periods and their acronyms are confusing and overlapping. Below discusses different enrollment periods in relation to the different parts of Medicare:

Medicare Enrollment Periods

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Date/Time: When you are first eligible for Part A and/or B.

The Initial Enrollment Period for Parts A and B is 7 months, starting 3 months before the month of your Medicare eligibility and ending 3 months after the month of eligibility. The month of eligibility is the month of your 65th birthday, if you become eligible for Medicare because you are turning 65 years old. Or, if you become eligible due to a disability, your month of eligibility is the 25th month of receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The effective date of your Medicare coverage depends on when you enroll. The later you enroll, the later your benefits begin. If you enroll in Part B during the:

  • First 3 months of your IEP, your benefits will begin the first day of the 4th month of your IEP or the month of eligibility.
  • 4th month of your IEP, your benefits will begin the first day of the following month or the 5th month of your IEP.
  • 5th month of your IEP, your benefits will begin the first day of the 2nd month following your month of enrollment or the last month of your IEP.
  • 6th or 7th month of your IEP, your benefits will begin the first day of the 3rd month following your month of enrollment.
  • Note: If you delay your enrollment into Part B, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty of 10% of the current Part B premium amount for each 12-month period you delayed enrollment.

General Enrollment Period (GEP)

Date/Time: January 1st – March 31st each year

For people who did not enroll in Part B when they first became eligible for Medicare may elect Part B coverage during the General Enrollment Period, which extends from January 1 through March 31 each year. Enrollment becomes effective on July 1 of the same year. You may have to pay a higher premium for late enrollment.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Date/Time: Varies

The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is available only for people who delay enrollment in Part B, Medicare Advantage (Part C), or a Part D plan because they have employer group coverage. If you become eligible for Medicare at 65, and have coverage from an employer group health plan based on your or your spouse’s employment, you may delay enrollment. When you stop working or your employer group health coverage ends, you have a Special Enrollment Period to enroll. A Special Enrollment Period (SEP) exists for Part B and for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans in certain circumstances. Note: COBRA and retiree health plans aren’t considered coverage based on current employment. You’re not eligible for a SEP when these coverage ends. To avoid paying a higher premium, make sure you sign up for Medicare when you’re first eligible.

Part B

The Special Enrollment Period is 8 months following the end of employment or employer group health coverage, whichever is earlier. There is no late enrollment penalty If you enroll during the Special Enrollment Period.

Medicare Advantage & Part D

The Special Enrollment Period is available for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans:

  • If you move, you may change to a different plan not offered in the area where you formerly lived.
  • If your coverage through your employer or union group health plan ends, you have a SEP to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan. The SEP ends 2 months after the month your coverage through the group plan ends.
  • If you become eligible for the low-income subsidy (LIS) or extra help, you have an ongoing SEP as long as you qualify for the LIS. You can change Part D plans or Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage on a monthly basis.

There are other situations that allow for Special Enrollment Periods for a Medicare Advantage or Part D Plan. Please call us if you have specific questions. You can call us, toll free, at 888.430.7510.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Date/Time: October 15th – December 7th each year

During the Annual Enrollment Period, people can join, change or drop a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan:

  • If you did not enroll in an Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you may enroll in an Medicare Advantage or Part D plan during the AEP.
  • If you are already in an Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan, you may change plans or dis-enroll from your plan during the AEP.
  • If you had an Medicare Advantage plan and went back to Original Medicare and now want to be in an Medicare Advantage plan again, you may enroll during the AEP.

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