Medicare Open Enrollment Timeline

Oct 7, 2016

Whether you’re turning 65 this year or looking to make changes to your current plan, knowing when to apply for Medicare can get confusing. But don’t worry! We’ll break down the process of enrolling in Medicare plans with a simple Medicare enrollment timeline.

Medicare Eligibility

How to Find Out If You’re Eligible for Medicare

You’re eligible for Medicare once you turn 65 (and if you meet a certain number of requirements). Depending on when you apply for Medicare, your Medicare enrollment period may vary. You can check your current enrollment at

Medicare Enrollment Periods

Your Medicare timeline is split between 4 different enrollment periods.

Your 65th Birthday Year: Initial Coverage Election Period

Your Medicare timeline starts with your Initial Coverage Election Period. This starts three months before your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month and extends for three months after that.

Unless you want to risk paying higher premiums by enrolling later (which may last for life), it’s best to sign up for Medicare during your Initial Coverage Election Period.

January 1 – March 31: General Enrollment Period

If you missed your Initial Election Period to sign up for Medicare you have a second chance to apply during the General Election Period January 1 – March 31. Medicare coverage applied for during General Enrollment Period will begin on July 1 of that year.

October 15 – December 7: Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment (or Annual Election Period) is a time for current enrollees to make changes to their insurance plans and/or change to a different Medicare plan.

Benefits change yearly. Be on the lookout for Medicare notifications by mail to see if your current plan may incur changes. Updates made to coverage during Medicare Open Enrollment will take effect on January 1.

January 1 – February 14: Special Disenrollment Period

If you’re looking to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, you may do so during the Special Disenrollment Period.

How to Get Ready for Open Enrollment

Medicare Open Enrollment 2016 is about to kick off in a few days. You can get ready by taking two easy steps:

  1. Discuss your health outlook for the year with your doctor to anticipate your future needs.
  2. Get with a Licensed Agent knowledgeable in Medicare to discuss your plan options. You may be able to save some money by switching to a different plan.


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