Medicare Enrollment Periods
Medicare has specific time frames in which you can purchase or change plans. All of these different enrollment periods can be confusing. Read more below to understand the enrollment periods and how to avoid fees.
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment Period is the first time you are eligible to enroll in Medicare once you turn 65. You have seven months – three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and three months after your birthday. If you are already receiving Social Security when you turn 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare.
There is a specific enrollment period called the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period if you would like to buy a supplement plan for more coverage. Once you are enrolled in Part A and Part B, you have six months to buy a supplement plan. If you do not buy a supplement plan during this time, you may be denied later.
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Special Enrollment Period
Special Enrollment Periods are designed to help you in specific situations. If you are moving out of your plan’s service area or are losing your current healthcare or prescription drug coverage, you are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. If you are moving outside of your plan’s service area and notify your plan before your move, you have a month before your move or up to two months after to switch. If you do not notify your plan until after you switch, you have two months from the moment you notify your plan to switch. If you are losing your coverage, you have two months to enroll in a new plan.
General Enrollment Period
You may sign up during the General Enrollment Period if you did not sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period and are not eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period is every year between January 1 and March 31.
If you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may choose to keep your plan or change your mind during the Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment Period. Between January 1 to March 31, you may either keep your Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare. New changes will begin on the first day of the following month.
Annual Enrollment Period
If you would like to make changes to your Medicare coverage, you can do so during the Annual Enrollment Period. This period is from October 15 to December 7. These changes will be active on January 1. Changes that apply during the Annual Enrollment Period include changing between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan, buying prescription drug coverage, or switching to a new plan.
When should I enroll?
Paying attention to Medicare enrollment periods is essential to enroll in the best coverage and avoid fees. Using this guide, you can make a detailed calendar specific to your life with reminders about enrollment periods.