Unlike Medigap, that does not have a specific enrollment period, you are only allowed to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan or Medicare Part D Plan (PDP) during the annual election period (AEP) or during your initial enrollment period (IEP). It’s critical that you mark these open enrollment period dates on your calendar.
Medicare’s annual enrollment period is the same time each year. It starts on 15 October and ends on 7 December. The 2014 AEP has not changed due to the new Obamacare law, and seniors with Medicare benefits do not qualify for Obamacare benefits.
During AEP you can dis-enroll from your existing MA or PDP plan, if you have one, and enroll in a new plan. If this is your first time enrolling, it will be your opportunity to discover the various tools available to compare MA plans.
In addition to AEP you have your own initial enrollment period. Your IEP happens once, when you first qualify for Medicare benefits. For most of us, our IED happens when we turn 65, but it can also be when you qualify for Medicare due to a disability or ESRD.
Your IEP is a 7 month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. In most cases, your Social Security office will send you a reminder.
If you are newly eligible for Medicare because you’re disabled and under 65, you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan starting 21 months after you get Social Security. Your Medicare coverage begins 24 months after you get Social Security. Your chance to enroll in an MA plan lasts through the 27th after you get Social Security benefits.
Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalty
By law, Medicare is entitled to charge you a late enrollment penalty if you do not sign up for a Part D Plan when you are first eligible. The late enrollment penalty is an amount that’s Medicare adds to your monthly Part D premium. In most cases, you will owe the late enrollment penalty if at any time after your Initial Enrollment Period there’s a 63 or more day lapse in Part D or other creditable prescription drug coverage. This is why it’s critical to join a PDP when you first qualify. Even if you are 100% healthy and don’t have regular prescriptions, you could end up paying a lot more for your prescriptions if you don’t join at age 65.
Still have questions about Medicare Advantage Plans?
Try one of these additional articles:
- What do Medicare Advantage Plans cover?
- How much do Medicare Advantage Plans cost?
- When is the Medicare Annual Election Period?
- What are Medicare Advantage Plans?