Medicare Enrollment Periods

During specific Medicare enrollment periods, you can enroll in a Medicare plan, drop a plan, or switch between Medicare plans.

These are important for every new and existing Medicare enrollee to know as these will be crucial in avoiding late enrollment penalties and gaps in coverage.

Initial Enrollment Period

This is the first enrollment period for eligible individuals, which will start three months before you turn 65. Because it is a seven-month-long period, it will end three months after your 65th birthday.

During this period, you can enroll in Medicare Part A and B, also known as Original Medicare. People who receive Social Security Disability benefits or qualify for automatic enrollment may not need to sign up manually through this period. 

If you are not automatically enrolled, but you still do not enroll during this period, you could face permanent late enrollment penalties, especially if you don’t have creditable coverage already in place.

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General Enrollment Period

This is the second enrollment period for Medicare. If you missed or delayed enrollment during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period. The General Enrollment Period begins each year on January 1 and ends on March 31. 

However, if you enroll during this period, your Medicare coverage will begin on July 1, causing a gap in coverage. If you do not qualify for a Special Enrollment period, then the General Enrollment period may be the only opportunity to enroll in Original Medicare apart from the Initial Enrollment Period. 

It is important to note that you will most likely be at risk of paying a late enrollment penalty if you enroll during this period.

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

The Medigap Open Enrollment period allows you to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan as soon as you are enrolled in Original Medicare and are 65. During this period, you have a six-month guaranteed issue right to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without fear of being denied coverage or charged more because of your medical history.

However, missing this period is not promising for coverage. Insurers will be able to deny you past this period.

Annual Enrollment Period

This enrollment period starts on October 15 and ends on December 7. During this period, existing enrollees can make certain changes to their Medicare coverage. The changes you can make include:

  • Enrolling, dropping, or switching Part D plans
  • Enrolling, dropping, or switching Part C plans
  • Leaving a Part C plan to go back to Original Medicare, or vice versa
Special Enrollment Period

This period allows you to avoid late enrollment penalties when you have delayed your initial enrollment. However, to qualify, you must be facing some special circumstance. For example, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you delayed your initial enrollment because you already had creditable coverage at the time, but now you do not. You can also qualify for a SEP if you moved out of your plan’s service area and need new coverage.

At Scott Sims Insurance, we will guide you through the different Medicare enrollment periods so you can avoid late enrollment penalties and get the coverage you need. If you are ready to get started, contact us at (541) 915-0939.