When it comes to enrolling in Medicare, it’s all about timing. Learn about the different enrollment periods so you can stay on track with your retirement plans.
There are 4 basic enrollment periods that allow you to sign up for Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. When you choose to enroll depends on your personal circumstances and retirement goals.
— Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is for people who are new to Medicare and want to enroll when they turn 65.
— Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is for people who want to enroll in Medicare after 65 or for people who experience a major life event.
— Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the time for people who are already enrolled in a Medicare plan to switch plans or add coverage.
— Open Enrollment Period runs from Jan. 1 to March 31st and allows you to switch Medicare Advantage plans once during this time. You may choose to do this if for any reason you are dissatisfied with your current plan.
If you are new to Medicare, you have a 7-month window to sign up for any of the parts of Medicare that you want. This time period is known as your initial enrollment period, or IEP.
Your Medicare IEP falls during:
— 3 months before your birthday month
— Your birthday month
— 3 months after your birthday month
Major life events, such as retiring after age 65 or losing your employer health plan, qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, or SEP. You have 7 months after the event, such as your retirement date, to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B.
However, there is only a 60-day window to sign up for Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), Medicare Part D, or Medigap.
Special circumstances that qualify for an SEP include:
— Moving to a new address that’s not in your previous Medicare plan’s network
— Becoming a resident of a nursing home
— Leaving an employer health plan
— Losing Medicaid coverage
— Involuntarily losing prescription drug coverage
— Meeting low income qualifications
Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period takes place every year from October 15 to December 7. During this timeframe, you have the option to:
— Sign up for Medicare, including a Medicare Advantage plan
— Switch to a different private insurance company
— Change your Medicare Advantage plan
— Drop, add, or change your prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D)
— Increase or decrease your plan coverage for Medicare Advantage or prescription drugs
— Enroll in supplement Medicare insurance – Medigap
The Open Enrollment Period runs from Jan. 1 to March 31st and allows you to switch Medicare Advantage plans once during this time. You may choose to do this if for any reason you are dissatisfied with your current plan.
Open enrollment for Medigap begins the month of your 65th birthday and extends five months after that. If you are still working and get Medicare Part B when you retire, you have six months from your effective date of Part B to enroll in a Medigap plan.
If you enroll in Medigap outside of this time period, you may be subject to higher rates or fewer coverage options.