Without a doubt, there are other critical moments you will want to ensure that you remember – like the Medicare special enrollment period. Typically, the timeframe for enrolling in a Medicare plan is known as an enrollment period. Notably, you have a seven-month period around the month you turn 65 to first sign up for a Medicare plan.

If you miss enrolling at the right time, your coverage may be delayed. Moreover, you could face penalties later on, and that may end up costing you more. Here are the critical Medicare special enrollment periods you should know.

Initial Enrollment Period

During the initial enrolment, you have a seven-month window – from three months before the month turning 65, through your birthday month and three months after the month you attain the age of 65. During this time, you can:

  • Enroll in Medicare (Parts A and B) 
  • Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D)
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

Original Medicare coverage The most ideal time to obtain a Medicare Supplement plan is during the six-month enrollment period if you are looking to supplement your Original Medicare coverage to help with additional costs. The period starts the first day of the month you turn 65 as long as you have signed up for Medicare Part B. If you fail to sign up for a Medicare Supplement plan during this Open Enrollment Period, you will not be able to buy a Medicare Supplement plan. 

Tip: If you go back to Original Medicare, you can add a Medicare Supplement plan. However, the insurance companies are no longer required to accept your Medicare Supplement plan application unless you are still within the six-month Medicare Supplement Enrollment Period.

It is worth noting that Medicare Advantage plans can only be purchased from private insurers like Aetna. Besides, Medicare Advantage plans may also include prescription drug coverage.

Annual Enrollment Period 

One can make changes to their coverage and enroll in a Medicare plan every year, from October 15 to December 7.

  • If you are in Original Medicare, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan — or vice versa.
  • You can join or drop a Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • You can change from a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage to one without — or vice versa.
  • You can also update your coverage by switching to your current insurer’s new plan or switching to a new insurer.

If you opt to make a change during the Annual Enrollment Period, your new coverage will not begin until January 1.

Special Enrollment Period

In situations such as the ones stated below, you may be able to join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan outside the basic enrollment periods.

  • when relocating out of your plan’s service area
  • If you tell your plan before you move – you can switch starting the month before you move and two months after you move.
  • If you declare your plan after you move – you can easily switch from the moment you notify your plan through the next two months.

Qualifying for Financial Assistance with Medicare Costs

Medicare Supplement Enrollment PeriodNotably, you can sign up once per calendar quarter during the first nine months of the year. Your coverage will start the first day of the month after you qualify or ask to join a new plan. 

You can also switch to a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan or 5-star Medicare prescription drug plan once a year. That is mainly from December 8 to November 30 of the next year.

The Medicare Star Ratings is an independent ratings system that permits consumers to assess plan performance on a number of factors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services formed these star ratings for consumers.

Health insurance companies strive to ensure that their Medicare plans are high quality and achieve at least four stars. 

When you have picked the enrollment period that fits your situation, you can sign up for a plan that is right for you.

References and Resources

Original Medicare coverage

Medicare prescription drug plan