Enrollment Periods

Most people can join Medicare when they turn 65. You can also join if you:

  • Receive Social Security disability checks for 24 months, or
  • Have permanent kidney failure, known as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or
  • Have Lou Gehrig’s Disease, known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

General Enrollment Period

If you did not sign up for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period. This takes place every year from January 1–March 31. Coverage will begin July 1.

Medicare Annual  Enrollment Period

The Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period occurs every year from October 15–December 7. People can make changes in their Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) or Advantage Plan enrollment. If they do not want to stay in their current plan, they can enroll into a different Prescription Drug Plan, or Advantage Plan, or return to Original Medicare. Their new plan will start the following January 1.

This is the key time for individuals to review their health care and drug coverage and make changes for the following year, if they choose.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period 

You can switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and pick up a Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), or to another Medicare Advantage Plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. You can only make this coverage change if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan. This occurs every year from January 1–March 31. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you will be able to switch to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

Special Enrollment Periods

There are Special Enrollment Periods for special circumstances. A person can make changes if:

  • If they move out of the service area, or
  • If they qualify for extra help to pay for Medicare prescription drug coverage, or
  • If the plan decides to leave the Medicare program or reduce its service area at the end of the year.

Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods.

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