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"easyMedicare made getting the coverage I deserved easy and saved me a great deal of money."

- Joe Theismann

Joe Theismann - NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion

Paid Endorsement

Online Enrollment in Medicare

It should come as no surprise that the easiest way to enroll in Medicare is to do so using one of the most impactful tools in all of human history: the internet.

Medicare Online

The internet has changed the way we shop, bringing the wares of the world to our doorstep in a matter of days — hours even. It has turned us all into travel agents — able to book planes, trains and automobiles with just a few taps, clicks or swipes. The internet has also made it easier for us to maintain our health. And for those of us who are eligible for Medicare, the internet has made it possible to easily enroll in Medicare online.

There aren’t different requirements for online Medicare enrollment when compared to enrolling by phone or in-person. Enrolling online is simply another avenue to join Medicare — an avenue that’s easier and more convenient for many people these days. All of the same requirements for enrolling in person, by mail or by phone apply to online Medicare enrollment.

So how do you know if you’re eligible for Medicare benefits? To get a general idea, ask yourself a few questions:

Are you less than 12 months away from turning 65 years of age, or are you older than 65?

Have you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes for approximately 10 years?

Do you receive, or are you eligible to receive, benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board?

Have you had permanent kidney failure or do you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)?

If you’re a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident and you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you qualify for full or partial Medicare benefits.

To get a better idea about your Medicare eligibility, talk with a licensed Medicare agent today. Call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET.

Types of Medicare Enrollment Periods

No matter what day of the year it is, it’s a Medicare enrollment period for someone somewhere. However, there are specific guidelines for who can participate in these enrollments. While some enrollment periods are static, occurring over the same dates every year, other enrollment periods are based on circumstances.

Understanding your enrollment period is especially important if you’re enrolling online without the assistance of a licensed insurance agent. If you enroll outside of eligible enrollment periods, your enrollment will be rejected.

Here’s a rundown of the major enrollment periods, starting with the most critical enrollment window for people who are new to Medicare: the Initial Enrollment Period.

Initial Enrollment Period

Unless you carried a union or employer-sponsored plan past the age of 65, your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) will begin a few months before your 65th birthday. It starts three months before your birth month, includes your birth month and then continues for three more months — totaling seven full months altogether.

Seven full months provides you a lot of time to get quotes, compare them and make your plan choices for your first year of Medicare coverage. It’s a wide window of time that will hopefully make it easier for you to enroll in Medicare in your time, yet still on time.

If you miss your IEP, you could be penalized with higher premiums the entire time you’re covered by Medicare. You may get to postpone your Initial Enrollment Period if you carry sufficient coverage past your 65th birthday, but you’ll need to reach out to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to confirm your coverage ahead of time.

Your new Medicare coverage will start between one to three months after you choose your plan, depending on when you finalize your selection during your IEP. And, as with other enrollment periods, you can take advantage of your IEP through online Medicare enrollment.

Annual Election Period

There’s no need to overthink your plan choices during your IEP, as you’ll get a chance to make changes to your coverage every year during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP). And you can do so via the internet by taking advantage of the flexibility of online Medicare enrollment.

AEP runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 annually, providing all Medicare beneficiaries with plenty of time to compare quotes and make any of the following changes to their coverage:

  • You can switch from Original Medicare (Part A, Part B) to Medicare Advantage (Part C)
  • You can switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
  • You can switch between Medicare Advantage Plans
  • You can add or drop prescription drug coverage (Part D)

Changes made during the Annual Election Period go into effect at the beginning of the next year, on Jan. 1.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Offering yet another window of opportunity to make plan changes, offline or online through online Medicare enrollment, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year. During this time, you can make one of two major changes to your Medicare coverage:

  • Switch between Medicare Advantage plans
  • Switch back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan
    • Add prescription drug coverage, if you switch back to Original Medicare

Changes made during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period take effect on July 1 of the same year. Keep in mind: You only get to make one change to your coverage during this enrollment period.

Special Enrollment Period

Despite the Annual Election Period and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period spanning half a year annually, life can find a way to add to the urgency in making changes to your coverage. For those unforeseen events, Medicare may offer a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to give you the chance to make plan changes outside of the yearly enrollment periods.

These are some of the circumstances that could prompt the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to initiate an SEP for you or your plan’s service area:

  • Plan termination — Medicare has decided it will no longer accept the plan you’re on or won’t renew the plan’s contract
  • Loss of group plan coverage — your group plan was terminated by you, your employer or your union
  • Relocation — you recently moved to a new location outside of your plan’s service area
  • Dual Eligibility — you become eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare
  • Entering or exiting long-term care — you either moved into an institution, live in one or recently moved out of one
  • Extra Help — if you qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program, you could get to make a single change to your coverage outside of the Annual Election Period No longer incarcerated — you were recently freed from incarceration
  • A better plan is available — Medicare offers a higher-rated plan in your service area or your employer plan offers better coverage than Medicare

Keep reading to identify the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, how to evaluate online Medicare quotes, and how to enroll online.