When it comes time for you to enroll in a Medicare plan, you will have an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). Your IEP will begin three months before you turn 65 and end three months after. If you do not enroll during that time, you will be charged a late enrollment penalty fee and will have to wait until the General Enrollment Period before you can enroll.
The General Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 every year. This is when, if you missed your IEP, you can enroll in Medicare for the first time. Your coverage will begin in July. If you decide that you would like to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan as well, you can do so from April 1 through June 30. The reason for that time gap is that you cannot enroll in Medicare Advantage or Part D until you have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
Don’t forget that enrollment during the General Enrollment Period means that you missed your Initial Enrollment period. Medicare wants to encourage beneficiaries to enroll during their Initial Enrollment Period as to not miss important benefits. That’s why if you miss your IEP, you will have to pay the late enrollment penalty fee. You might have as much as a 10% increase on your premiums - that’s why it’s a great idea to enroll during your IEP!
If you enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period and you decide that you don’t like your plan or would like to switch to Medicare Advantage or Medigap (Medicare Supplement), you can do so every year during AEP, the Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 - December 7).
If you’re confused about when you can enroll, we can help you figure it out. Give us a call for free assistance at 1-844-431-1832.