Understanding the Different Medicare Enrollment Periods

Jun 4, 2020

Understanding the different Medicare enrollment periods and when to enroll in what can be confusing. There are so many different dates to remember and getting them mixed up can cause consequences. Missing deadlines can mean late fees and monetary penalties. No one wants that, right? Here, we will briefly touch on what each enrollment period is and give you the resources to help you nail down the terms and dates.

Medicare Enrollment Periods chart

Initial Enrollment

The first opportunity you have to enroll in Medicare is called “Medicare Initial Enrollment Period,” or IEP. This is a seven-month window of time. It begins three months before you turn 65, your birthday month, and then three months after. You can qualify for Medicare the year you turn 65, but there are certain requirements you need to meet. For example, you either need to be eligible to receive Social Security benefits or you are already receiving said benefits. If your spouse is covered for Medicare through government employment or you are covered through government employment, then you are also eligible for Medicare.

General Enrollment

If you miss the IEP, then you can use the “General Enrollment Period.” “General Enrollment Period,” or GEP, begins January 1st and goes through to March 31st. This is where you would enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. Although, yes, you do enroll during that three month period, your coverage will not begin until July 1st of the same year. Unfortunately, if you do miss the Initial Enrollment Period, then there could be a 10% late penalty on top of what you are paying for your premium.

Special Enrollment

Some people stay working after the age of 65. This is where Medicare “Special Enrollment Period,” or SEP, comes into play. You are eligible for SEP if you have insurance through your employer, your union, or your spouse’s employer. SEP is open for eight months. You are eligible to sign up for Medicare Part B the month after you stop working or the month after your insurance with your employer runs out. It depends on which one comes first. If you are still working, then you may want to wait to enroll in Medicare Part B. Your insurance through your employer will cover first.

Annual Enrollment Period

The “Annual Enrollment Period” is the standard period of time for Medicare enrollment. This happens starting October 15th and goes through December 7th. During the AEP, you have the opportunity to make important decisions about the Medicare plan you wish to use. You can add, drop, or switch between Medigap Plan, Medicare Advantage, and Original Medicare. After choosing and/or adding to your plan, your coverage begins January 1st of the following year. If you need more information, then we have you covered.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from January 1st through March 31st. However, this is for those who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part “C” of Medicare) during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Take advantage of this OEP if you are looking to make a one-time change to your Medicare Advantage plan.

This is a lot of information to take in, and we understand that. The acronyms alone are enough to make our heads spin! If you have any questions or concerns on Medicare enrollment periods, please do not hesitate to contact us at 888-552-2412.

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