Important Medicare and Medicare Supplement Enrollment Dates
Updated: May 22, 2019
If you're approaching age 65 you've likely been inundated with Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance advertisements. Obviously your 65th birthday is relevant to when you can sign up for Medicare and Medicare Supplement insurance, but the enrollment periods vary slightly depending on what plan you're signing up for. Below are the enrollment dates for Medicare Parts A and B, Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage), Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage), and Medicare Supplement insurance (also known as Medigap).
Enrolling in Medicare Parts A and B
Open enrollment for Medicare Parts A and B is three months prior to your 65th birthday, your birthday month, and three months after your birthday. This seven month time period is called your Initial Enrollment Period. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, then you will have to wait until January to enroll in Medicare and you won’t have coverage until that next July.
Enrolling in Part C (Medicare Advantage)
First, you must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. Once you've enrolled in Parts A and B, then you have six months to switch to a Medicare Part C plan. You can choose to switch Medicare Advantage Part C plans each year during Fall Open Enrollment between October 15 and December 7. There are also special enrollment periods that apply under unique circumstances. Check with a licensed Medicare Advantage insurance agent to help you figure out if you might be eligible for special enrollment.
Note: It's often worth exploring different Medicare Advantage plans during Fall Open Enrollment. There is no penalty for switching plans during this period and your current plan might not be the best option each year. Have a Medicare Advantage insurance agent run Medicare Advantage quotes for you each year during Fall Open Enrollment to make sure you're still in the optimal plan for your needs and expenses.
Enrolling in Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)
You can enroll in Medicare Part D during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period - three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your 65th birthday, and the three months after your 65th birthday. If you don’t sign up for Part D prescription drug plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, then you can wait until the Fall Open Enrollment window of October 15 through December 7th.
Enrolling in Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)
Beginning the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B, you have six months to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan with no medical underwriting. Note, if you enroll in Medicare Part B after your 65th birthday, then your Medicare Supplement enrollment period starts the first day of the month in which you are enrolled in Medicare Part B and are 65 years old.
If you miss your Medicare Supplement enrollment window, then you will most likely be subject to answering medical questions in order to get this type of coverage. There are some exceptions to this rule, but make sure to talk to a Medigap insurance agent if you are near your 65th birthday so they can explain your options.
If you lose your current health coverage and are 65 years old or older, you might have guaranteed issue rights outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. You should speak with an insurance agent if you think you might be eligible for guaranteed issue rights.