Before you can begin receiving Medicare coverage, you will need to enroll in a Medicare plan during the correct enrollment period. Medicare has different enrollment periods, each with different dates to be mindful of. These enrollment periods include:
Initial Enrollment Period
The Initial Enrollment Period is the first period during which people who are newly eligible for Medicare can enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. It is a 7-month window that surrounds the enrollee’s 65th birthday. The Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before turning 65 and ends three months after your 65th birthday. If you qualify for automatic enrollment, you may not need to enroll manually.
However, suppose you do not qualify for automatic Medicare enrollment. In that case, you will need to enroll during your Initial Enrollment period so that your coverage can begin as soon as possible. If you do not enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period, you may be faced with late enrollment penalties when you later enroll, and these penalties can be permanent.
General Enrollment Period
The General Enrollment Period serves as the second enrollment period for eligible individuals. You can enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if you did not enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period begins on January 1 and ends on March 31 every year, but your coverage won’t officially start until July 1.
Not only is this important to take into account, but enrolling during this period can also subject you to late enrollment penalties. Again, these penalties can be permanent and will be tacked onto your Medicare premiums. How much you pay in penalties will depend on which Medicare plan you were late to enroll in and how long you went without coverage.
Annual Enrollment Period
The Annual Enrollment Period can be quite valuable to existing Medicare beneficiaries as it allows them to make changes to their Medicare coverage if they are not satisfied with their current plan. Changes you can make include:
- Switching Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans
- Switching from Part C back to Original Medicare (and vice versa)
- Switching, enrolling, or dropping a Part D plan
The Annual Enrollment Period begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. The changes you make will become active on January 1.
Special Enrollment Period
Due to certain circumstances, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. The Special Enrollment Period gives a brief window to allow you to sign up for Medicare or switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan or provider, that is, as long as you qualify. Some of the most common ways to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period are moving out of your plan’s service area or losing your current coverage.
Medicare has other enrollment periods, such as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which allows you to make changes to your Medicare Advantage coverage. There’s also the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan as soon as you are enrolled in Original Medicare and are 65 years old.
To know more about the different Medicare enrollment periods and which one may benefit you more, contact us today at (800) 709-5513.