The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) determine when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. This page explains these various time periods.
Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)
You are first eligible enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your Initial Coverage Election Period. This period begins three (3) months immediately before you are first entitled to both Medicare Part A and Part B and ends on the later of:
- The last day of the month before you are entitled to both Part A and Part B, or;
- The last day of your Part B initial enrollment period.*
*The initial enrollment period for Part B is the seven (7) month period that begins three (3) months before the month you are eligible for Part
Initial Enrollment Period for Part D (IEP for Part D)
The Initial Enrollment Period for Part D (prescription drug coverage) is when you are first eligible to enroll in a Part D plan. In general, you are eligible to enroll in a Part D plan when you are entitled to Part A or are enrolled in Part B, and permanently reside in the service area of a Part D plan.
Generally, your IEP for Part D is the same period as the Initial Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B. The initial enrollment period for Part B is the seven (7) month period that begins 3 months before the month an individual meets the eligibility requirements for Part B, and ends 3 months after the month of eligibility.
Your Initial Election/Enrollment Period (IEP)
We recommend that you enroll one (1) month prior to your eligibility month, because otherwise your information may not yet have been entered into the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) system.
In addition, if you do not enroll in Part D during your IEP for Part D, a late enrollment penalty will be added to your monthly plan premium, unless you have prior creditable coverage.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
The Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare runs from October 15 through December 7 for coverage effective January 1 of the following year. During this time, you may enroll in, or disenroll from, a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
During the Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which runs from January 1 - March 31 of each year, you have the opportunity to switch from your Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare or to another Medicare Advantage plan. If you change to Orginial Medicare, you will then be able to join a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Going without creditable prescription drug coverage for more than 62 consecutive days will cause you to have a late enrollment penalty when you obtain prescription drug coverage in the future.
Other Election Periods
You can enroll in one of our plans outside of the initial or annual enrollment periods if certain situations apply to you. Some examples of these situations are:
- You are already on Medicare due to a disability and you turn 65
- You move into our plan’s service area
- You are eligible for extra help, including a subsidy for low income
- You are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid
- You lose employer or union coverage
- You move into, reside in or move out of an institution such as a skilled nursing facility or other long-term care facility
There are a few other circumstances under which you can enroll or disenroll outside of the times discussed above.
Last Updated: 1/1/2019