What are the Medicare Enrollment Periods?
Enrollment periods are designated time periods to enroll or disenroll from the various parts of Medicare. There are six Medicare enrollment periods.1Medicare.gov, “When does Medicare coverage start?“, Accessed September 25, 20212Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- The Initial Enrollment PeriodThe Initial Enrollment Period is a seven-month period when new beneficiaries can enroll in Medicare without a penalty. Most people enroll in Medicare at age 65. is the first opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to enroll. This enrollment period is based on a beneficiary’s benefit qualification date.
- A beneficiary’s IEP triggers a 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment PeriodUpon initial enrollment in Medicare Part A and Part B, beneficiaries have a one-time, six-month period to buy a Medicare supplement policy with guaranteed issue rights. This is the Medigap Open Enrollment Period.. During this period a Medicare supplement policy can be purchased with guaranteed issue.
- The General Enrollment PeriodThe General Enrollment Period (GEP) allows beneficiaries to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B from January 1 to March 31 if they missed their Initial Enrollment Period. Beneficiaries can also enroll in a..., from January 1-March 31, is available for those who missed their IEP. Late penalties may apply.
- The Annual Enrollment PeriodThe Annual Enrollment Period is when Medicare beneficiaries can join, drop or change Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. AEP begins on 15 October and ends on 7 December., from October 15-December 7, is the annual period to join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part DMedicare Part D plans are an option Medicare beneficiaries can use to get prescription drug coverage. Part D plans provide cost-sharing on covered medications in four different phases: deductible, initial coverage, coverage gap, and catastrophic. Each... plan.
- The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment PeriodDuring the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, Medicare Advantage and Part D plan members can change, switch, or drop a plan they chose during the Annual Election Period. OEP starts on January 1 and ends on March 31., from January 1-March 31, allows beneficiaries to make one-time changes to their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan enrollment.
- Some circumstances, such as a job change or a move, require a Special Enrollment PeriodSpecial Enrollment Periods (SEPs) allow beneficiaries to change their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans due to a special circumstance. Common reasons for a SEP include moving, losing employer coverage, and Medicaid eligibility, to name... (SEP). When given a SEP, a beneficiaryA person who has health care insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid programs. can make a change to their Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the first time someone can enroll in a Medicare plan without late penalties. The IEP takes place during a seven-month period around a person’s 65th birthday. During their IEP a person can enroll in Medicare Part AMedicare Part A is hospital coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. It covers inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also covers limited home healthcare services and hospice care. (hospital insurance), Medicare Part BMedicare Part B is medical coverage for people with Original Medicare benefits. It covers doctor visits, preventative care, tests, durable medical equipment, and supplies. Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of most medically necessary healthcare services. (medical insurance), Medicare Part CMedicare Part C is Medicare's private health plan option. Also known as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part C plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by companies that contract with Medicare to provide all... (Medicare Advantage planMedicare Advantage (MA), also known as Medicare Part C, are health plans from private insurance companies that are available to people eligible for Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B).), and Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan).1Medicare.gov, “When does Medicare coverage start?“, Accessed September 25, 2021
For more information on the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, click here.
Medigap Open Enrollment Period (Medigap OEP)
The Medigap Open EnrollmentIn health insurance, open enrollment is a period during which a person may enroll in or change their selection of health plan benefits. Health plan enrollment is ordinarily subject to restrictions. Period (Medigap OEP) is a six-month period to enroll in Medicare supplement insuranceMedicare Supplements are additional insurance policies that Medicare beneficiaries can purchase to cover the gaps in their Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) health insurance coverage. (Medigap) that starts as soon as a beneficiary’s Medicare Part B coverage begins. They can enroll in Medigap plans outside of the Medigap OEP, but they only have the benefit of guaranteed-issue rightsGuaranteed-issue is a right granted to Medicare beneficiaries and applies to Medicare Supplement insurance (aka, Medigap plans). All states and the federal government enforce this essential right, which protects Medicare beneficiaries from medical underwriting. when enrolling in a Medigap plan during this one-time enrollment period.3Medicare.gov, “When can I buy Medigap“, Accessed September 25, 2021 Guaranteed-issue rights protect their beneficiary from being denied Medigap coverage or charged extra costs because of their pre-existing health conditions4Medicare.gov, “Guaranteed issue rights“, Accessed September 25, 2021.
For more information on the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, click here.
General Enrollment Period (GEP)
The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is for enrolling in a Medicare plan if a beneficiary missed their Initial Enrollment Period. The GEP happens every year from January 1 to March 31 for Medicare Part A and Part B. Coverage starts July 1 and beneficiaries may suffer late enrollment penalties for delaying enrollment1Medicare.gov, “When does Medicare coverage start?“, Accessed September 25, 2021.
For more information on the Medicare General Enrollment Period, click here.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
The Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the time for beneficiaries to switch their current Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage plan or join a Part D prescription drug plan. The AEP takes place from October 15 to December 7 and any changes made go into effect January 1. The AEP is sometimes referred to as the Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Period.2Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
For more information on the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, click here.
Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period takes place from January 1 to March 31. The OEP allows current Medicare Advantage plan holders to make a one-time change to their plan. This is so that if a beneficiary enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan they disliked, they aren’t stuck with it for a whole year.2Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
For more information on the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, click here.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) are exactly what they sound like; enrollment periods that are available due to special circumstances. Enrolling during a SEP absolves the beneficiary of any late enrollment penalties. These circumstances can be things like moving to a new area, a Medicare Advantage plan becoming unavailable through Medicare, or the beneficiary losing the employer coverage that they delayed Medicare enrollment for.5Medicare.gov, “Special circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods)“, Accessed September 25, 2021
For more information on Medicare Special Enrollment Periods, click here.
- 1Medicare.gov, “When does Medicare coverage start?“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- 2Medicare.gov, “Joining a health or drug plan“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- 3Medicare.gov, “When can I buy Medigap“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- 4Medicare.gov, “Guaranteed issue rights“, Accessed September 25, 2021
- 5Medicare.gov, “Special circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods)“, Accessed September 25, 2021