The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) determine when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you are thinking about enrolling in a new plan or want to make changes to your current coverage, here is what you need to know about enrollment deadlines and your eligibility status.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from January 1 - March 31 and gives you the opportunity to switch from your Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare or to another Medicare Advantage plan without waiting for the next Annual Enrollment Period. You can only make one enrollment change during the three-month window.
You have a one-time chance to:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
- Drop a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
- Sign up for a Part D Prescription Drug plan (if returning to Original Medicare).
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.
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: 10/6/2021