Understanding Medicare enrollment periods and knowing which enrollment period matches your situation best is necessary to avoid late enrollment penalties. Not only is this an important factor to consider, but paying attention to these enrollment periods can help you enroll in the Medicare plan you feel meets your needs the most.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after your 65th birthday. This gives you a total of seven months to enroll in a Medicare plan once you become eligible. You can enroll in Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C, or Part D during this period.
General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The General Enrollment Period begins January 1 and ends March 31, every year. During the General Enrollment Period, you can enroll for Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is also during this timeframe. During this period, you can switch to another advantage plan or switch back to Original Medicare.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period, you will be given a specific timeframe to enroll in a Medicare plan. To be eligible, you must have experienced a specific situation that caused you to seek new coverage, such as:
- You moved out of your plan’s service area and must get a new plan.
- You were covered by employer’s insurance and delayed Medicare enrollment.
- Your plan made changes to its coverage that no longer suits your coverage needs.
- Your plan’s contract with Medicare changed or ended.