Medicare Enrollment Periods

We’ve compiled nearly all the Medicare enrollment periods you could be looking for so you know when you can get plans or make changes to your healthcare coverage. 

We’ll explain what you can do during these periods and when they are.

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Initial Enrollment Period

This is the first time you become eligible for Medicare.

If you’re becoming eligible due to age, your initial enrollment period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday month. 

This happens with one exception: if your birthday is on the first of the month. This will cause your enrollment period to begin one month early. For example: if your birthday is December 1, your enrollment period will begin August 1 and your Medicare will begin one month early as well — November 1. 

During your initial enrollment period, you can enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and B), Medicare Advantage, a Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Part D.

What happens if you miss your initial enrollment period

If you don’t sign up for Part B on time, you will pay an extra 10% premium for every 12-month period you should have had Part B. 

The premium for Part B in 2020 is $144.60. So, you would pay an additional $14.46 each month. This penalty is for the rest of your life. 

In addition, if you do not have other creditable prescription drug coverage and sign up for a Part D plan after your initial enrollment period, you’ll have a late penalty added to your premium. 

Part D’s late penalty adds 1% of the national base premium per consecutive month that you went without coverage and then rounded to the nearest 10 cents. The national base premium is $32.74 per month in 2020. That’s an additional $3.90 per month if you went without coverage for one year.


Annual Enrollment Period

The annual enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. 

During this time Medicare beneficiaries can enroll, change, or drop their Medicare Advantage or Part D plans.

Medicare Special Enrollment Period

If you have a life event that causes you to lose coverage or need more, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. 

A few examples, but certainly not all, instances you’d qualify for a special enrollment period are: 

  • If you move outside the plan’s service area
  • Unintentional loss of coverage
  • You receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits
  • Have a baby
  • Get married

If you think you qualify for a special enrollment period, call one of our licensed Medicare insurance agents. 

During a special enrollment period you can: 

  • Return to Original Medicare without a penalty
  • Depending on your eligibility, sign up for a Medicare Supplement with no medical questions
  • Purchase a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Purchase a Part D plan
  • Switch your Advantage plan or Part D plan
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Medicare Advantage’s Open Enrollment Period is from January 1 to March 31.

During this time you can switch to another Advantage plan (once) or return to Original Medicare. If you return to Original Medicare, you can choose a Part D plan to keep your prescription drug coverage.