| Mon, Sep 17, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Two Medicare Enrollment Periods You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicare enrollment periods IEP OEPFirst you join Medicare, then you manage your Medicare coverage. Medicare provides enrollment periods for you to do both.

Here’s a rundown on each of these key time periods.

Initial Enrollment Period for New Beneficiaries

The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is when most people first join Medicare. You need to pay special attention to the specific dates of your IEP. If you miss this window, then you may have to pay more for your coverage, unless you qualify for an exception.

One of two situations triggers your IEP:

  • You are turning 65

  • You are under age 65 and have a qualifying disability


Your IEP is seven months long and includes:

  • The three months before your 65th birthday month or your 25th month of receiving disability benefits

  • The month including your 65th birthday month or your 25th month of receiving disability benefits

  • The three months after your 65th birthday month or your 25th month of receiving disability benefits


People with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or end-stage kidney disease (ESRD) may enroll in Medicare sooner. You can get more information about these situations at Medicare.gov.

During your IEP you can enroll in Original Medicare Part A, Part B or both. If you enroll in both, then you can choose to join a Medicare Advantage plan or a prescription drug plan if you wish.

Open Enrollment Period for Current Beneficiaries

Once enrolled, you’re not locked into your choices. You can change your coverage once a year during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The OEP starts on October 15 and ends on December 7 every year. You may also hear it called the Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP.

During OEP, you can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, change your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan and more.

It’s a good idea to review your coverage every year to make sure that it still meets your needs. If you are happy with your current coverage, then you don’t have to do anything during OEP.

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.



Understand Your Medicare Enrollment Periods: Enrollment date calculator that provides your personal dates

Medicare Plan Review Worksheet: A simple tool to help you assess how well your plan meets your current needs

Medicare Coverage Examples: See how four people with different needs decided which plans were right for them


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