There are specific times when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan (MAPD), a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), or make changes to coverage you already have. It’s important to know the enrollment periods for many reasons. We’ve provided you a couple of them.
- If your circumstances change and your current plan is no longer a good fit, then you’ll know when you can correct your situation.
- If you feel you have chosen the wrong plan, then you know when your rights allow you to change to an option better fit for you.
Below are the major enrollment periods for Medicare Part C and Part D:
It’s likely you will be made aware of the Initial Election Period (IEP) by the hurricane of mail you receive as you are approaching your 65th birthday. We apologize for the mail. Many companies will be sending you advertisements to enroll into their plan since you’re new to Medicare.
We recommend you do your research and take your time during this transition. You have seven months to make a decision; however, you only get one opportunity to enroll during this period. So, please don’t be pressured into making a decision too soon. On the contrary, take this time to educate yourself on all your options. To get you started on the right track, please refer to our class on “Original Medicare: What Are My Options?”. The old adage of measure twice and cut once is recommended, so that whatever you eventually choose will be something you feel confident and comfortable with.
Initial Coverage Election Period
The Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) is very similar to the Initial Election Period (IEP). The ICEP is tied to when you actually enroll into Medicare Part B, if different than your 65th birth month. This enrollment period will also apply to those individuals who gain Medicare due to being disabled for more than 24 consecutive months. Once you receive your Medicare card, you will have 3 months to choose a option to enroll into.
Similar to the above IEP, we recommend you do your research and take your time during this transition. You have three months to make a decision, however, you only get one opportunity to enroll during this period. Do your due diligence, measure twice and cut once.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
Typically, almost everyone is familiar with the Annual Election Period (AEP). Every year – from October 15th to December 7th – you can make as many changes as you would like. The last change you make and have submitted will be the one that counts, and will become effective on January 1st of the upcoming year.
You will most likely see a heavy dose of advertising during this time period. Don’t be afraid to make a change; however, we do recommend that you do your research and even meet with a trusted Medicare Broker before you do so because you may already be on a plan that is still an ideal fit for your needs. If this is the case, your Medicare Broker should advise you to remain on your current plan and not make any changes. Your current plan will renew on January 1st of the upcoming year without you having to do anything (except sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays!). You have until December 7th to decide if you need to make a change or not, although you shouldn’t wait until the last minute! Many resources will be available to you in early October.
Open Enrollment Period
The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is a relatively new concept to Medicare. It started in 2019 and is a nice safety net for many. Think of this period as an opportunity for “re-do”. If your circumstances change (new medications, doctors, etc.) or you didn’t factor in certain circumstances when making your decision during AEP, then this enrollment period should prove to be very valuable.
You get the opportunity to make one change (according to the 4 options in the above infographic) anytime from January 1st to March 31st. Please do your research and talk to your Medicare broker for support in this decision because once it’s made you will most likely be “locked-in” to that plan until next January.
Lock-In Period is explained through its name as you are locked into the plan that you have chosen after the Open Enrollment Period. At this point, unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), you will be on the plan you have chosen until next January should you decide to switch during AEP. If absolutely necessary, there may potentially be a SEP to support you, but you or a Medicare Broker would need to review your situation and assess to see if any of your circumstances qualify you.
Special Enrollment Period
There are many Special Enrollment Periods. The main qualifying events are listed below. If you have a unique circumstance that isn’t listed, please contact us and we will be able to research your situation and support you.