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What if You Miss the Medicare Enrollment Period?

medicare-enrollment-period-miss

It happens to everyone. You have an item on your to-do list, but by the time you get around to it, the deadline has flown by. Medicare enrollment is no different. Maybe you didn’t even know there was a deadline! What do you do now?

I missed my Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Your Initial Enrollment Period occurs when you turn 65 and it lasts 7 months, including your birthday month and 3 months both before and after.

If you did not enroll in Medicare Parts A and/or B during your Initial Enrollment Period, there are two possible solutions:
Enroll during the General Enrollment Period. The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is from January 1 to March 31 each year. If you enroll during this period, your coverage will begin on July 1 of that year, and you’ll pay higher premiums for late enrollment.

Enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you’re enrolled in a group health plan through an employer, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You may not have a late enrollment fee if you enroll during an SEP.

If you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug plan during your Initial Enrollment Period and wish to join now, these are your options:
Enroll during the Annual Enrollment Period. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year and provides an opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to join or change Medicare Advantage plans.

Enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you’re eligible for a Special Enrollment Period due to coverage under an employer, as described above, you may be able to join a Medicare Part C or D plan. Find out about additional circumstances that impact eligibility for a Special Enrollment Program.

I missed the General Medicare Enrollment Period

If you missed Medicare enrollment during your Initial Enrollment Period and the General Enrollment Period from January to March, you may:
Enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if you have had coverage through an employer.

Enroll during the next General Enrollment Period (GEP). You may wait to enroll until the next GEP. In that case, your coverage will begin July 1 following the General Enrollment Period. You may be subject to late enrollment fees.

I missed the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage

The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage occurs from October 15 to December 7 and is the yearly opportunity for Medicare beneficiaries to join, drop, or change Medicare Advantage plans.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan but didn’t switch during the Annual Enrollment Period, you may:
Join a different plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). MA OEP occurs from January 1 to March 31 each year. During this time, individuals who are members of a Medicare Advantage plan may make one change to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

Join during a Special Enrollment Period. Special circumstances can create Special Enrollment Periods for an individual that can occur at any time during a year depending on the circumstances. Learn more about Medicare special enrollment circumstances.

Join during the next Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). If you missed both the Medicare Annual Enrollment and Open Enrollment Periods, you may wait to enroll until the next Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.

I missed the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

If you intended to change Medicare Advantage plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31 but didn’t, you may:
Change plans during an SEP. If you have a special circumstance, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

Change plans during the next Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). You can make any changes to your Medicare Advantage enrollment during AEP from October 15 to December 7.

Get Help

Whether you’re not sure about your enrollment periods, need to research plans, or just want to enroll in a plan, our Medicare Advocates can help. Call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday to Friday.