Prepare for Enrollment

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Before picking your plan, you’ll want to make sure you’re fully prepared to enroll in one. That includes confirming your eligibility and marking your calendar with important enrollment deadlines. Plus, you can see when you’ll be able to switch plans.

Are you eligible for Medicare?

You’re likely eligible for Medicare if you meet the following requirements. ¹

You must be a US citizen or permanent legal resident for at least five years

PLUS one of the following

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You are age 65 or older

OR

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You have received Social Security disability for at least two years¹

AND

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You have Lou Gehrig's disease or permanent kidney failure


When can you enroll or make a plan change?

The enrollment window depends on your specific situation—

use the charts below to determine when you can enroll.

Whether you’re turning 65 or are new to Medicare for another reason, we have the answers to your enrollment timing questions.

You are turning 65

Those who are about to turn 65 or just turned 65 are eligible for the Initial Enrollment Period.

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When can I enroll?

You will become eligible for Medicare the month of your 65th birthday. Your 7-month initial enrollment window will start three months before the month of your 65th birthday and last until three months after your birth month. You can enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B and if you so choose, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan through a private insurance company during this time.

What do I need to do?

In most cases you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and Part B. You should receive your Original Medicare card and information in the mail three months prior to your birth month. If you receive social security payments, your part B premium will be deducted from your check once your coverage starts. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan any time within your 7-month initial enrollment window. 

When will my coverage start? 

If you sign up during the first 3 months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage starts the first day of the month you turn 65. If you sign up the month of your birthday your coverage will begin one month later. If you sign up the month after your birthday your coverage will start two months later. If you enroll between two and three months after your birth month coverage will begin 3 months after you sign up.

When can I enroll?

Most people take Original Medicare Part A when it is available, but some people choose to delay enrollment in Original Medicare Part B. This is most often due to having coverage through their job or a spouse’s employer. Once your employer-sponsored coverage ends, most likely due to retirement, you will have 8 months to enroll in coverage and if you so choose, enroll in a private insurance Medicare plan.

What do I need to do?

You will need to submit an application with Medicare to request enrollment in your Part B coverage. 

When will my coverage start?

In most cases your coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you enroll. 

When can I enroll?

If you have been receiving disability insurance payments from social security or the railroad retirement board for 24 consecutive months you will become eligible for Medicare at the beginning of your 25th month.2

What do I need to do?

You will be automatically enrolled. You should receive your Original Medicare card and information in the mail three months prior to month 25 on disability. If you receive social security payments, your Part B premium will be deducted from your check once your coverage starts. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan 3 months before, the month of, and three months after your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

When will my coverage start? 

Your Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage will become effective at the start of month 25 of disability. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan 3 months before, the month of, and three months after your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

If you miss your initial enrollment period, you will be able to sign up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B during Medicare’s General Enrollment Period from Jan 1 – March 31 each year. If you sign up during this time your coverage will start July 1. Depending on your situation you may not be able to sign up for private insurance Medicare plans at this time and could have to wait until the next annual enrollment period. You may also be required to pay late enrollment penalties unless your current coverage type waived you from this fee.

Those who already have a Medicare plan can switch during the following times each year:

 

Annual Enrollment Period

Who can enroll?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Oct 15 – Dec 7 each year. Anyone on Medicare can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan for the first time, or switch plans during this period. You can also drop your plan altogether and return to Original Medicare during this time.

What do I need to do?

You will need to contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan if you have one. 

When will my coverage start?

Your new plan will be effective on Jan 1 of the new year. 

Who can enroll?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Oct 15 – Dec 7 each year. Anyone on Medicare can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan for the first time, or switch plans during this period. You can also drop your plan altogether and return to Original Medicare during this time.

 

What do I need to do?

You will need to contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan if you have one. 

 

When will my coverage start?

Your plan’s coverage will start based on the effective date determined during the enrollment process.

Who can enroll?

During the rest of the year you will need to qualify for a special enrollment period in order to enroll, switch, or drop a plan. Some examples of qualifying life events may include, but aren’t limited to, moving to a new service area, losing your current health coverage, or a change to your current plan.

 

What do I need to do?

If you believe you may qualify for a special enrollment period and wish to switch plans you should contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan, if you are eligible for a special enrollment period. 

 

When will my coverage start?

Your plan’s coverage will start based on the effective date determined during the enrollment process.

If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you may be able to join, switch, or drop your Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug coverage one time each quarter (Jan – March; April – June; July – September). If you choose a new plan during this time, it will become effective the first day of the following month. If you make a change during the annual enrollment period (Oct 1– Dec 7), your new plan will become effective on Jan 1.

Whether you’re turning 65 or are new to Medicare for another reason, we have the answers to your enrollment timing questions.

You are turning 65

Those who are about to turn 65 or just turned 65 are eligible for the Initial Enrollment Period.

MicrosoftTeams-image (59) 1.png

When can I enroll?

You will become eligible for Medicare the month of your 65th birthday. Your 7-month initial enrollment window will start three months before the month of your 65th birthday and last until three months after your birth month. You can enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B and if you so choose, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan through a private insurance company during this time.

What do I need to do?

In most cases you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare Parts A and Part B. You should receive your Original Medicare card and information in the mail three months prior to your birth month. If you receive social security payments, your part B premium will be deducted from your check once your coverage starts. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan any time within your 7-month initial enrollment window. 

When will my coverage start? 

If you sign up during the first 3 months of your initial enrollment period, your coverage starts the first day of the month you turn 65. If you sign up the month of your birthday your coverage will begin one month later. If you sign up the month after your birthday your coverage will start two months later. If you enroll between two and three months after your birth month coverage will begin 3 months after you sign up.

When can I enroll?

Most people take Original Medicare Part A when it is available, but some people choose to delay enrollment in Original Medicare Part B. This is most often due to having coverage through their job or a spouse’s employer. Once your employer-sponsored coverage ends, most likely due to retirement, you will have 8 months to enroll in coverage and if you so choose, enroll in a private insurance Medicare plan.

What do I need to do?

You will need to submit an application with Medicare to request enrollment in your Part B coverage. 

When will my coverage start?

In most cases your coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you enroll. 

When can I enroll?

If you have been receiving disability insurance payments from social security or the railroad retirement board for 24 consecutive months you will become eligible for Medicare at the beginning of your 25th month.2

What do I need to do?

You will be automatically enrolled. You should receive your Original Medicare card and information in the mail three months prior to month 25 on disability. If you receive social security payments, your Part B premium will be deducted from your check once your coverage starts. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan 3 months before, the month of, and three months after your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

When will my coverage start? 

Your Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage will become effective at the start of month 25 of disability. If you choose, you can enroll in additional coverage through a private insurance company. You will be able pick a plan 3 months before, the month of, and three months after your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.

If you miss your initial enrollment period, you will be able to sign up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B during Medicare’s General Enrollment Period from Jan 1 – March 31 each year. If you sign up during this time your coverage will start July 1. Depending on your situation you may not be able to sign up for private insurance Medicare plans at this time and could have to wait until the next annual enrollment period. You may also be required to pay late enrollment penalties unless your current coverage type waived you from this fee.

Those who already have a Medicare plan can switch during the following times each year:

 

Annual Enrollment Period

Who can enroll?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Oct 15 – Dec 7 each year. Anyone on Medicare can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan for the first time, or switch plans during this period. You can also drop your plan altogether and return to Original Medicare during this time.

What do I need to do?

You will need to contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan if you have one. 

When will my coverage start?

Your new plan will be effective on Jan 1 of the new year. 

Who can enroll?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is Oct 15 – Dec 7 each year. Anyone on Medicare can enroll in a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan for the first time, or switch plans during this period. You can also drop your plan altogether and return to Original Medicare during this time.

 

What do I need to do?

You will need to contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan if you have one. 

 

When will my coverage start?

Your plan’s coverage will start based on the effective date determined during the enrollment process.

Who can enroll?

During the rest of the year you will need to qualify for a special enrollment period in order to enroll, switch, or drop a plan. Some examples of qualifying life events may include, but aren’t limited to, moving to a new service area, losing your current health coverage, or a change to your current plan.

 

What do I need to do?

If you believe you may qualify for a special enrollment period and wish to switch plans you should contact your sales agent or broker or contact the insurance company you wish to sign up with directly. They will help you get enrolled in your new plan and dis-enrolled in your current plan, if you are eligible for a special enrollment period. 

 

When will my coverage start?

Your plan’s coverage will start based on the effective date determined during the enrollment process.

If you are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, you may be able to join, switch, or drop your Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug coverage one time each quarter (Jan – March; April – June; July – September). If you choose a new plan during this time, it will become effective the first day of the following month. If you make a change during the annual enrollment period (Oct 1– Dec 7), your new plan will become effective on Jan 1.


Frequently asked questions about the Medicare Annual Election Period

No, if there are no changes to your plan you will not need to do anything to keep your current coverage. Your plan will automatically renew each year as long as you remain eligible.

If there are changes to your current plan coming for the next plan year your insurance company will send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) in September.  This letter will detail the changes in coverage, cost, service area, and benefits that will be effective in January. If these changes will no longer meet your needs, you can shop for a new plan during the Annual Enrollment Period from Oct 15 – Dec 7.

No, you can enroll or change plans two times a year. First during the annual enrollment period from Oct 1 – Dec 7 and then again during Open Enrollment from Jan 1 – March 31. From April 1 – Oct 1 you will need a special enrollment period to switch plans. If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or go back to Original Medicare (with or without a drug plan) within the first 3 months you have Medicare.

Whether you are working or not, you will be eligible for your Medicare benefits when you turn 65. The question then becomes whether or not you should I enroll in Medicare and/or stay on your employer’s plan? The answer may be different for Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Starting with Part A (hospital insurance) if you’ve been paying into Medicare via payroll deductions throughout your career you’ll generally pay no premium for this coverage - so you may want to enroll in Part A when you’re first eligible. For Part B (medical insurance), most people will be responsible for the standard monthly part B premium when they sign up ($170.10 in 2022). 

The short answer is yes. You are required to have Part D coverage for prescription drugs. For most people this means purchasing a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug plan or an all-in-one Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan from a private insurance company.. If you don’t enroll in Part D coverage during your initial enrollment period, and you cannot demonstrate creditable coverage was in place during this time, you may be subjected to a late enrollment penalty that may last the entirety of your time on Medicare if you enroll in Part D coverage later on.

According to Medicare.gov, “If you miss your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait to sign up and pay a monthly late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. The penalty goes up the longer you wait. You may also have to pay a penalty if you have to pay a Part A premium, also called “Premium-Part A.”

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