Every year, there are specific times called Medicare enrollment periods when you can enroll in Medicare or make changes to your current coverage.
These enrollment periods occur at the exact times each year, allowing you to evaluate your healthcare coverage multiple times.
Continue reading to learn more about specific Medicare enrollment periods. It also includes how to make changes and when your new coverage starts.
Initial enrollment in Medicare.
Before and after you turn 65, you have a 7-month window to sign up. You can sign up for Medicare Part A, hospital insurance, Part B, or medical insurance. You can do this during this time (medical insurance). This period includes:
- 3 months before your 65th birthday month.
- Your 65th birthday month.
- 3 months following your 65th birthday month.
If your birthday is August 29, 1957, your initial enrollment period is May 1st, 2022, through November 30th, 2022.
Special enrollment periods for Medicare.
If you miss your initial enrollment period’s 7-month window, you may be able to enroll in Medicare during a special enrollment period (SEP).
- You are covered by your current employer’s group health plan, which allows you to enroll in Medicare part A, and Part B, at any time, during your initial enrollment period. If you or your spouse (or, if you’re disabled, a family member) is working and is covered by the group health plan through your employer, you qualify for this SEP.
- Your current employment or group health plan ends, in which case you have an 8-month SEP beginning the month following those terminations. COBRA and retiree health plans aren’t considered coverage based on current employment, so you won’t be eligible for a SEP when that coverage ends.
- You or your spouse’s employment provides a health savings account (HSA) with a high-deductible health plan. Although you can withdraw funds from your HSA after enrolling in Medicare. But you should stop contributing to it at least 6 months before applying.
- You are a volunteer serving in a foreign country and may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Medicare Part A or Part B.
The Medicare open enrollment period is currently underway.
Every year, from October 15th to December 7th, an open enrollment period allows Medicare beneficiaries to change their coverage. You can, for example, switch from the original Medicare (parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to regular Medicare.
- Switch between two Medicare Advantage plans.
- Part D may be added, deleted, or switched (prescription drug plan). You can make changes or amendments to your Medicare plan during the annual open enrollment period. Your previous coverage will expire on January 1st of the following year, and your new coverage will begin on that date.
How long does it take for coverage to begin?
If you enroll in Medicare Part A & B during the first three months of your initial enrollment period, you will begin receiving coverage on the first day of the month following your birthday.
- If your 65th birthday is on June 27th, 2022, and you enroll in Medicare in March, April, or May of that year, your coverage will begin on June 1st, 2022. This is an example.
- If your birth date is the 1st of the month, your coverage will begin on the 1st of the month before your birthday.
- The initial enrollment period lasts 7 months, starting three months before your 65th birthday month and ending three months after you reach that milestone.
- Suppose you do not enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during your initial enrollment period. In that case, the following are some examples of when your coverage will begin: If you sign up during the month of your 65th birthday, your coverage will begin one month later.
- If you sign up in the month following your 65th birthday, your coverage will begin two months later.
- If you sign up two months after your 65th birthday month, your coverage will begin three months later. And if you sign up three months later, your coverage will begin three months later.
There are four main sign-up periods for Medicare:
- The initial enrollment period lasts seven months, beginning 3 months before your 65th birthday and the last 3 months after your 65th birthday.
- Special enrollment period: As an employee or volunteer in another country, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period for health insurance.
- General enrollment period: Every year, from January to March, for those who missed the initial enrollment period.
- The open enrollment period, which runs from mid-October to early December, is for people who need to change their Medicare coverage.
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