Medicare Enrollment Periods This is the first of two articles concerning Medicare Enrollment. This article contains information on some of Medicare’s most common enrollment periods. The second article will discuss the penalties imposed by the federal government if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period.

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is a seven-month enrollment period that begins three months before your 65th birthday (or when you first become eligible for Medicare) includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after you turn 65. Coverage begins the first day of the following month after enrollment.

If you plan to work past 65 or are covered under your spouse’s plan, ask your employer’s benefits administrator if you are required to sign up for Medicare. If the employer does not require you to sign up for Medicare, you can sign up later without a penalty during a Special Enrollment Period.

In most cases, if you or your spouse’s employer employs fewer than 20 people you will need to sign up for Medicare.

Open/Annual Election Period (AEP) Begins October 15th and ends December 7th. During this time, you can cancel your existing Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan and enroll in a new plan. The new plan will start on January 1st.

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) Begins on January 1st and ends February 14th. During this time you can disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan, return to original Medicare and enroll in a stand-alone drug plan. Coverage begins on the first day of the following month.

General Enrollment Period If you did not sign up for original Medicare during your initial enrollment period you can sign up between January 1st and March 31st of each year. Your coverage will not start until July 1st and you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Special Election Period (SEP) You can make changes to your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug coverage when certain events happen:

  • You lose or drop employee coverage.
  • You move out of a plan’s coverage area or a plan stops coverage in the area.
  • You move back to the U.S. after living outside the country.
  • You just moved into, currently live in, or just moved out of a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital.
  • You are no longer eligible for Medicaid
  • You are released from jail.

To see a complete list of all the Medicare Special Enrollment Periods click this link.

One of the challenges I face when writing articles is trying to strike a balance between including enough information to make the articles informative but not going into so much detail that they become confusing. Therefore, you should know that the information covered in these articles are just the basics and do not cover every Medicare situation.

Please feel free to call or email me with any questions you may have. Remember, there is never a fee for my services and you are under no obligation to use them.

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