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Medicare Enrollment Periods

Initial Enrollment

This enrollment period last 7 months. It starts 3 months before the eligible person's birthday, the month of their birthday, and 3 months after their birthday.  If they enroll 1-3 months before turning 65, Medicare will become active on the first day of their 65th birthday month.​  Some people are automatically enrolled in part A at age 65, but will need to sign up for part B. Medicare part B costs a monthly premium, while part A is premium-free as long as they have worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) and paid Medicare taxes.   If you do not sign up for Medicare part B when you are first eligible and sign up later, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for the duration that you have Medicare.

Annual Election Period (AEP)

This enrollment period is between October 15-December 7 each year.  During this time you can sign up, and make changes to your current plan.  If you missed your 7 month window during your initial enrollment period, this is your opportunity to sign up.  Several changes can be made during this time to your Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plan, and Prescription Drug Plan.  

Special Enrollment Period

These enrollment opportunities come from special situations, and happen all year long.  Certain events trigger these enrollment periods that allow a person to change coverage.  Below are a list of some general circumstances that qualify a person for a special enrollment period.

  • You change where you live:

    • You move to a new address that isn't in your plan service area​

    • You move to a new address that's still in your plan service area, but have new plan options in your new location

    • You just moved into, currently live in, or just moved out of an institution such as a skilled nursing facility or LTC hospital.

    • If you are released from jail

  • You lose current coverage

    • No longer eligible for Medicaid​

    • Left coverage from your employer or union including COBRA

    • Your plans contract ends with Medicare

    • Your plan is not renewed with Medicare

  • Other special situations

    • You qualify for Extra Help paying for Medicare services (Low income)​

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