Medicare Enrollment Periods
During Medicare enrollment periods, newly eligible individuals can register for Medicare, while existing enrollees can review or switch Medicare plans. The first enrollment period is the Initial Enrollment Period. The Initial Enrollment Period is an opportunity for newly eligible enrollees to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B.
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment Period starts 3 months before turning 65 and ends 3 months after your 65th birthday. If you were enrolled automatically for Medicare or if you already receive Social Security benefits, you won’t need to sign up manually. If that is not the case, you will need to sign up for Medicare during IEP to avoid the late enrollment penalty and get the most out of the available Medicare plans. During IEP, you can also sign up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. If you do not sign up when you are first eligible, you will pay a lifetime Part B late enrollment penalty.
General Enrollment Period
The second enrollment period is the General Enrollment Period. If you missed the Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up for Medicare during the General Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period starts from January 1 and ends on March 31. However, the Medicare coverage will come into effect on the 1st of July. If you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, then you can sign up for Original Medicare during the General Enrollment Period.
Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period
There is the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, during which you can purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, provided that you have signed up for Original Medicare. The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period lasts for six months after you turn 65 and are enrolled in Original Medicare.
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Annual Enrollment Period
The Annual Enrollment Period starts from October 15 and ends December 7. You can make changes to your Medicare coverage during this period. Existing enrollees can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, switch to a new insurer, join or drop a prescription drug plan, or switch to a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage. After making changes to your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment period, the changes will come into effect starting from January 1.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Another Medicare Enrollment Period is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. During this period, enrollees who have a Medicare Advantage plan can switch between Medicare Advantage plans or go back to Original Medicare.
Special Enrollment Period
The last enrollment period is the Special Enrollment Period. During this period, you may be able to sign up for Medicare or switch a Medicare Advantage plan under some special circumstances. For example, if you move outside your plan’s service area, you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan. There are some other special circumstances that may make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
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