Medicare offers several enrollment periods, each catering to specific circumstances. Knowing when you can enroll, switch, or drop your Medicare plans is crucial for managing your healthcare coverage. Here's a look at the key Medicare enrollment periods you need to know.
The Initial Enrollment Period is a seven-month window around your 65th birthday. It begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and continues for three months after the month you turn 65. During this period, you can join Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D for the first time.
A Special Enrollment Period is a time when you can enroll in Medicare or change your plan outside the regular periods. SEPs are triggered by specific events or changes in your circumstances, such as moving, losing other health coverage, or qualifying for Extra Help with prescription drug costs.
The General Enrollment Period is from January 1 to March 31 each year. If you didn't sign up for Medicare Part A and/or Part B when you were first eligible, you can sign up during the GEP. Your coverage will start on July 1 of that year.
Often referred to as the Annual Election Period (AEP), this period runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. During this time, you can change your Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for the following year. This is also when you can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period:
From January 1 to March 31, if you're in a Medicare Advantage Plans, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan or switch back to Original Medicare and join a Medigap Open Enrollment Period:
This is a six-month period that begins the first month you're 65 or older and enrolled in Part B. During this time, you have a guaranteed right to buy any Medigap policy sold in your state regardless of health conditions.
Understanding how Medicare works in relation to disability can be challenging. If you're disabled, no matter your age, you might be eligible for Medicare. This guide will help clarify how Disability Insurance and Medicare intersect and what benefits you may qualify for.
Medicare coverage is not just for people over 65. If you're under 65 and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you'll automatically get Part A and Part B (also known as Original Medicare) after 24 months of receiving SSDI payments.
If you've been getting SSDI benefits for 24 months, you'll automatically be enrolled in Medicare. In your 25th month of disability, your Medicare coverage will begin, and you'll be mailed your Medicare card about three months before it starts.
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. For most people, Part A is premium-free.
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services. Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B.
Once you're eligible for Medicare due to disability, you also have the option to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C). These plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare and often include prescription drug coverage and other benefits not offered by Original Medicare.
Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare, including those under 65 with a disability. To get this coverage, you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).
If you're under 65 and have Medicare due to disability, you might not be able to buy the Medicare Supplement Insurance policy (Medigap) you want, or any Medigap policy, until you turn 65. Federal law doesn't require insurance companies to sell Medigap policies to people under 65.
However, some states require Medigap insurance companies to sell you a Medigap policy, regardless of your age. Check with your state's insurance department to learn about your rights under state law.
If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can apply for Medicare. In most cases, you won't need to wait for the 24-month SSDI period. Medicare coverage can start as soon as the fourth month of dialysis treatments, or earlier if you meet certain conditions.