Medicare Enrollment Periods
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
When is the Initial Enrollment Period?
The Initial Enrollment Period begins 3 months before your 65th birthday month, the month of and 3 months after.
The Initial enrollment period is a 7-month window where you enroll into Medicare for the first time. You can choose to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. You may also be eligible to enroll into a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D Drug Plan.
What if I missed my Initial Medicare Enrollment Period?
Missing your initial enrollment period could negatively impact you financially. By not enrolling on time, you may incur a late enrollment penalty. This penalty amount can increase over time or for as long as you are not receiving coverage. If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you would have to wait until the General Enrollment Period to be eligible to enroll.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
When is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?
Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can enroll, change, or dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D (Prescription Drug Plan). If you were not able to enroll in a Medicare plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, this would be your opportunity to explore your options before you miss the deadline.
It’s very important to review your current coverage annually to ensure that your health needs are being met for the following year.
Do I need to re-enroll in my Medicare plan every year?
Generally, you will be automatically enrolled into your current Medicare plan every year, unless you feel that your Medicare plan no longer meets your healthcare goals. If you feel that you are missing important benefits such as dental, vision or hearing, then this would be the time of year to compare your options. During this time, you may also find Part D plans that offer lower prescription drug costs.
Whether you choose to make changes or not, this is the time to make sure that you are receiving all the benefits being offered in your area and to ask questions, before the December 7th deadline.
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General Enrollment Period (GEP)
When is the General Enrollment Period?
The General Enrollment Period starts on January 1st and ends on March 31st. During this time, you could enroll into Original Medicare, if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period and did not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Keep in mind that although you may sign up for Original Medicare, you may be subject to late enrollment penalties. Also, if you would like to enroll into a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug coverage) during this time, you will have to wait until the Annual Enrollment Period to be eligible.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment (MAOEP)
When is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period begins on January 1st and ends on March 31st. This Open Enrollment Period is for beneficiaries who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to leave or change to a different Medicare Advantage Plan. Also, you may switch back to Original Medicare with or without Part D drug coverage. However, you will not be able to change from a Part D to another Part D (Prescription Drug) Plan.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
What is a Special Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is an 8-month period that begins the month you or your spouse retire from work, or the month that your group coverage ends. Keep in mind, whichever comes first. If you’ve had health coverage through your employer, you can enroll in Part A and/or Part B, since you’ve had creditable coverage through a group health plan.
There are certain circumstances that can make you eligible for a Special Election Period. If you have moved outside of your plan’s service area, you will have two months to make changes to your coverage.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period
When is the Medigap Open Enrollment Period?
This period automatically starts the first month you have Medicare Part B and you’re 65 or older. During this 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, those looking to buy a Medigap Policy will generally get better pricing and have more available choices. During this period, you can get a Medigap policy sold in your state, even if you have health problems. After this enrollment period ends, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy if you are unable to pass a medical underwriting review.
Can I change Medigap plans anytime during the year?
You may be able to change your Medigap plan during the year, but this depends on your overall health and if you are able to qualify for a new policy.
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