Health & Wellness / Medicare

When Do I Enroll in Medicare?

medicare (3)By Christopher Shyide

There a few different times when you can enroll in Medicare. Medicare calls these Enrollment Periods, but what you can do during each period depends on when that specific enrollment period is.

Brief explanations for each Enrollment Period and their time frames are listed below:


Initial Enrollment/ Open Enrollment:

This refers to the 7 months surrounding your 65th birthday[1] and means you are newly eligible for Medicare. In the 3 months before you turn 65, the month of and the 3 months after you can sign up for Medicare parts A and B. In this window you can sign up for either a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) or a Prescription drug plan (Part D).

Open Enrollment generally refers to Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans. During this time you can enroll in a Medicare supplement plan without being asked any health questions and Medicare supplement plans must issue you the policy. You can enroll in these plans starting when you receive your Medicare card and up until 6 months after you turn 65[2]. If your birthday is in April you would have until the end of September.

General Enrollment Period:

If you’ve missed your deadline to enroll in Medicare Part A or B and want to enroll in your Medicare, you can still do this from January 1st until March 31st. Your coverage will begin on July 1st and you may have to pay a higher premium because of your late enrollment. You may also be able to sign up for Part C or Part D but you must do it before July 1st.

Annual Enrollment:

This happens every year from October 15th – December 7th. During this time you can enroll in a Part C or Part D plan and the plan will begin on January 1st of the following year. If you did not select a plan during your initial enrollment period you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

Medicare Disenrollment Period:

This happens every year from January 1st – February 14th.  If you signed into a Part C and decide you would rather be in Original Medicare you can leave the Part C during this time and select a Part D. You cannot change your Part D or switch into another Part C at this time.

Special Enrollment Periods:

Special Enrollment Periods are triggered by unique circumstances. Some of the most common are when moving to a new permanent residence or losing employer/group health coverage. Your time to enroll does vary based on the circumstance, in many cases there can be up to a 2 month window. During this time you can enroll in Part B, Part C or Part D. If you have any questions or want to see if you qualify for a special election period please call one of AMAC’s dedicated Medicare Agents at 1-800-334- 9330.

[1] For Most people you become eligible at 65 years of age. Some people may get Medicare under 65 because of specific Medical Conditions or in the 25th month of Disability. People in this situation get a second Initial election period during the 7 months around their 65th birthday.

[2] If you delayed your Medicare they also give you an Open Enrollment with Medicare Supplements within 6 months of the start of your Part B.

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Kenneth Guay
3 years ago

Medicare question. I turn 65 this December and already have my medicare number but have not received my card yet. I got a letter in the mail from SS/Medicare stating they will start deducting a certain amount from my SS check to cover the Medicare Part B. I am retired from the Federal Government and continue with full medical and dental insurance. My question, how can I opt out of the Part B?

Miles Hamre
3 years ago

My wife is retiring one year after me and I will be going on her insurance from her work. If I sign up for Medicare at 65 will I have to take and pay for Medicare benefits for that year or can I postpone them till I need them?

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