Medicare Enrollment Periods

Looking for healthcare plans and wondering when the Medicare enrollment periods are? We’ve got the guide you’ve been looking for with all of the periods in one place.

Medicare’s Initial Enrollment Period

Your initial enrollment period for Medicare begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after. 

There is only one exception and that is if your birthday is on the first of the month. In this case,  your initial enrollment period begins one month early. For example: if your birthday is September 1, your enrollment period will begin May 1 and your Medicare will begin one month early as well — August 1. 

During your initial enrollment period is when you will enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and B) and have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan.

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Annual Enrollment Period

Medicare’s open enrollment period — or annual enrollment period — runs from October 15 through December 7. 

During this time you can: 

  • Add a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Add a Medicare Part D plan (a late enrollment penalty may apply)

Medicare Advantage open enrollment

Medicare Advantage’s open enrollment period is from January 1 to March 31. 

During this time, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can: 

  • Leave your Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare. If you do this, you can buy a Part D prescription drug plan at this time.
  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

You can only sign up for Part D coverage during Medicare Advantage open enrollment if you’re switching from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.

Medicare Supplement open enrollment period

Once you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and B, there is a six-month open enrollment period for you to enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan.

This time is important because it is the only time you can get one guaranteed-issue. This means you can get a Medigap plan with no health questions asked. 

This window begins as soon as your Part B is effective.

Special enrollment periods

If you have a significant life event that would cause you to need to change your Medicare coverage, it may trigger a special enrollment period for you. 

During these times you can make changes to your Medicare coverage no matter what time of year it is. 

Examples of events that would trigger a special enrollment period: 

  • You change where you live
  • Released from jail
  • Involuntary loss of coverage
  • Your current plan changes its contract with Medicare
  • You become eligible for Medicaid

There are many other instances that would trigger a special enrollment period so be sure to ask one of our licensed Medicare agents if you think you would qualify.