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There are certain times when eligible beneficiaries may enroll in the different parts of Medicare. Some Medicare enrollment periods occur during a certain time period on an annual basis, while others may vary depending on your eligibility details (your birthday may be one example). Read below for information about enrolling in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C), Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, and Medigap plans.
Medicare Part A coverage is one of the two parts of Original Medicare, which is offered through the government to those who qualify. Many individuals are automatically enrolled in Part A and will receive their red, white, and blue Medicare cards in the mail three months before they become eligible. If you’re already receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board retirement or disability benefits, you’re typically enrolled into the program automatically the month that you qualify for Medicare. For example, if you turn 65 on May 9th and you’re receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll be enrolled in Medicare automatically on May 1st. If you’re not automatically enrolled:
Medicare Part B is the other part of Original Medicare.
In general, enrollment periods for Medicare Part B (including automatic enrollment) are the same as with Medicare Part A, above. Some exceptions are:
If you’re not automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B, you may enroll in Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), described above. If you miss this enrollment period, then you may have other options for enrolling in Part B, such as the General Enrollment Period described above, but you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty. You might not have to pay a penalty if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Beneficiaries that are already enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, may decide to get their Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan, available from private, Medicare-approved insurance companies. You can typically enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during certain times:
Qualifying beneficiaries have the option of receiving their prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. There are certain times you may enroll in such a plan, including:
If you qualify to enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, the best time to enroll may be during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP). This period begins on the first day of the month that you are bothenrolled in Medicare Part B and aged 65 or over, and lasts for six months. During this time, you generally have the guaranteed issue right to enroll in a Medigap plan of your choosing, as long as you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you live within the Medigap plan’s service area. An insurance company may not deny you enrollment in a Medigap policy based on any pre-existing conditions* during your Medigap OEP. If you miss this enrollment period, you may be subject to medical underwriting.
If you miss your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, in most cases you won’t get it again. However, there are certain situations when you may have guaranteed issue rights to enroll in a Medigap plan.
*Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions.
This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.
eHealth's Medicare website is operated by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a licensed health insurance agency doing business as eHealth. The purpose of this site is the solicitation of insurance. Contact may be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company. eHealth and Medicare supplement insurance plans are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program. We offer plans from a number of insurance companies.