Making Sense of Medicare Enrollment PeriodsShare this Post:
Medicare has a number of different enrollment periods that allow you to enroll in the various parts of Medicare coverage each year. It can feel confusing to keep track of them all, especially if Medicare is new to you. You can only enroll during certain dates each year, so it is important to be aware of all of the different enrollment periods to ensure you don't miss one.
Initial Enrollment Period
The initial enrollment period is the 7- month period occuring around the time you are first eligible for Medicare. This 7-month period begins 3 months before the month you turn 65 and ends 3 months after. During this enrollment period, you may enroll in Part A, Part B, Part C (Medicare Advantage), and Part D. Even if you have other medical coverage, consider enrolling in Medicare during this initial enrollment period. If you do not enroll during the initial enrollment period, you may pay a higher premium when you do enroll.
Special Enrollment Period
The special enrollment period is an 8-month period that begins the month after your qualified group health plan coverage, such as your employer's medical plan, ends. During this enrollment period, you may enroll in Part A, Part B, Part C (Medicare Advantage), and Part D. If you decide to elect COBRA continuation when your group health plan ends, be aware that the special enrollment period is not extended when you elect COBRA. After COBRA coverage ends, your special enrollment period will likely already be over, so you may have to wait to enroll in Medicare. If you are age 65 or older and covered by a qualified group health plan, you should review your Medicare options at least annually and certainly before you elect COBRA.
Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance) has its own enrollment period. If you are age 65 or older, you may enroll in any Medigap plan during the first six months of your enrollment in Part B. This is called your Medigap “open enrollment” period. During this time, you can purchase any Medigap plan sold in your state, regardless any health problems you may have. After six-month period has ended, you can still apply for a Medigap plan at any time; however, your application may be denied if you do not meet the health requirements. Regardless of any health conditions, it is a good idea to consider enrolling in a Medigap plan when you first sign up for Part B.
General Enrollment Period
The general enrollment period is January 1st – March 31st of every year. You may enroll in Part A and Part B during this enrollment period. Coverage for Parts A and B begins July 1st of the same year if you enroll during this timeframe. Know that if you wait until the general enrollment period to enroll in Part B instead of electing it during the Initial Enrollment Period or Special Enrollment Period, you may pay a higher monthly premium.
Annual Election Period
The annual election period is October 15th – December 7th of every year. You may enroll in Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D during this enrollment period. Coverage begins January 1st of the following year. Please be aware if you wait until the annual election period to enroll in Part D, you may be subject to a higher monthly premium.
Need Help With Enrollment? Call RedQuote!
Redquote is a team of passionate and experienced healthcare brokers ready to help you make sense of Medicare. We know it can be difficult to understand when and how to enroll in each of Medicare's different parts. Our team is here to guide you through each of your Medicare enrollment periods, helping you compare plans and benefits to make sure you have the coverage you need. Schedule an appointment today!
Published Oct 24, 2018.