Medicare Enrollment Periods
There are different Medicare enrollment periods, and some have different names, which can be confusing. The agents at Trusted Senior Specialists will guide you through the enrollment process and explain each period in simple terms.
Initial Enrollment Period
The first time you can sign up for Medicare is during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is also called the open enrollment period. You can enroll in any part of Medicare during this 7-month span:
- The three months before your 65th birthday
- The month of your birthday, and
- Three months after your 65th birthday.
Your coverage will kick in no earlier than your birth month. For instance, if your birthday is in May, your IEP begins on February 1 and ends August 31.
If you wait to enroll until after your IEP, you may pay a penalty and face a gap in coverage.
Annual Election Period
The Annual Election Period (AEP) is also known as Medicare open enrollment. It goes from October 15 to December 7. During this time:
- People with Parts A and B can switch to a Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan
- People with Part C can return to Parts A and B
- People who have or are enrolling in Parts A or B may sign up for, cancel, or switch to a Part D (prescription drug) plan
- People with Part C can switch to a different Part C plan
After you enroll, your coverage will start on January 1 of the following year.
Special Enrollment Periods
Special circumstances call for special enrollment periods (SEP).
As soon as your Initial Enrollment Period concludes, you may have the opportunity to enroll during a SEP. If you get coverage through a group employer plan, you have a SEP to join Part A and/or Part B at any time — as long as:
- You or your spouse is currently working.
- A group health plan covers you through the employer (or union).
Also, you have an 8-month SEP to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B that begins at whichever of these times occurs first:
- The month after the employment concludes
- The month after group plan coverage concludes
You normally don’t have to pay a late enrollment fee if you join during a SEP.
Need to know if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period? Contact Trusted Senior Specialists.
General Enrollment Period
If you miss your SEP or IEP, you have another shot. You can sign up for Medicare Parts A and B during the General Enrollment Period, which is January 1 to March 31 each year. Your coverage would begin on July 1 of that year. If you need Part A, you also have to enroll in Part B during this time.
What Else Should I Know?
You don’t have to enroll in Medicare every year. However, you’ll get the chance to evaluate your coverage each year and switch plans as necessary.
If you have more questions or need help with Medicare enrollment, our team is here for you. Call (844) 325-8710 to speak with a qualified insurance agent.