| Tue, Sep 11, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

New Enrollment Tool: a Window to Your Medicare Enrollment Periods

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare enrollment period tool Timing matters when you’re enrolling in Medicare. This is true whether you’re new to Medicare, or if you already have it and want to change your coverage. It’s important to understand all your enrollment periods—the times when you can enroll in a Medicare plan—so you can get the coverage you need when you need it.

You might already know about the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP)—October 15 – December 7 each year. But do you know if you might have other enrollment windows, as well? Some of these windows stay open a while, some don’t. Some of them happen every year, and some are Special Enrollment Periods based on certain life events, like if you move outside of your current plan’s service area. Missing these windows could mean you’ll have fewer choices or pay more.

To help you learn more about your enrollment periods, we’ve created a new enrollment timing tool. This tool will give you a customized picture of the enrollment windows that may apply to you. Here’s how it works.

1.  Select Your Situation

When you first land on our enrollment timing tool, you’ll be asked to select your situation. In other words, why you’re eligible for Medicare and what you want to do. There are four main situations.

  • New to Medicare: Turning 65 – This is for people who are “aging into” Medicare by turning 65.

  • New to Medicare: Over 65 and Retiring or Losing Employer Coverage – If you’re over 65 and are just now retiring or losing insurance coverage you might have had through an employer, choose this situation.

  • New to Medicare: Qualifying Disability – This situation is for those who are eligible for Medicare because of a disability. They might be older or younger than 65.

  • Already Enrolled: Changing Coverage – If you already have Medicare coverage, but are looking to add, switch or drop your coverage, this is the category for you.

2.  Enter Your Dates

To better customize your enrollment period results, the enrollment tool might ask you to enter a specific date. Here are some examples:

  • New to Medicare: Turning 65 – Date of Birth

  • New to Medicare: Over 65 and Retiring or Losing Employer Coverage – Retirement date or the date your group health coverage ends (whichever happens first)

  • New to Medicare: Qualifying Disability – Month you began receiving disability benefits. You will also be able to tell us if you have Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). This will help the tool give you information targeted to your special situation.

3.  Look at Your Timelines/Enrollment Periods

Once you’ve entered all your details, the enrollment timing tool will display a list of the Medicare enrollment periods that may apply to you. In many cases, you’ll also see a helpful timeline that centers around the date(s) you’ve entered. This gives you a good visual for your most important enrollment period(s). Here are some examples

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – If you’re aging into Medicare, this will be the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your 65th birthday and the three months after your 65th birthday.

  • Open Enrollment Period (OEP) – The most common OEP is the Medicare OEP, which is October 15 – December 7 every year. Some types of plans may have their own OEP. The tool can help you identify these, too.

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – An SEP is an enrollment period outside of the “normal” Medicare enrollment periods. You might qualify for an SEP if you lose coverage you had through an employer, for example.

  • General Enrollment Period (GEP) – The Medicare GEP happens every year, January 1 – March 31. You can sign up for Medicare Part A, Part B or both if you didn’t enroll during your IEP or SEP. You may have to pay a penalty for late enrollment in some situations.

Once you’re familiar with your enrollment periods, visit Medicare Made Clear to learn more about the different types of plans, costs and other useful information. For a general chart comparing the types of coverage, take a look at our two-step guide to Medicare choices. When you’re ready to compare specific plans available in your area, the Medicare.gov Plan Finder can be a great way to see what each plan has to offer. You can even compare plans side-by-side so you can be sure to get the coverage you need.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.



Enrollment Timing Tool – Medicare Made Clear: Helps Medicare-eligible people learn about their enrollment periods

Two-Step Guide to Medicare Choices – Medicare Made Clear: Learn the ABC and Ds of Medicare.

Plan Finder tool – Medicare.gov: Get a side-by-side comparison of Medicare plans available in your area.



Y0066_120828_135654 CMS Accepted