You are eligible for Medicare typically at age 65 and can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) or, if applicable to you, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). If you didn’t sign up for Part A and/or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period and you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, you can sign up during a General Enrollment Period (GEP), but you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty and have a delay in your coverage effective date.
You must enroll in Part A & Part B before you can enroll in a Medicare insurance plan.
Initial Enrollment Period – You can sign up for Medicare beginning 3 months before your 65th birthday month, during your 65th birthday month, or 3 months after. Premium-free Medicare Part A can start the 1st of the month that you turn 65. Your Medicare coverage start dates will depend on when during your initial enrollment period you sign up. See the table to determine when your Medicare coverage can start.
If you sign up ...
- One to three months before your 65th birthday month
- During your 65th birthday month
- One month after your 65th birthday month
- Two or three months after you turn 65
Coverage Start Date
- The first day of the month you turn 65*
- The first day of the month after your birthday month
- The first day of the second month following your birthday month
- The first day of the third month after you sign-up
*If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, your coverage can start the 1st of the prior month
Initial Enrollment Period
Your Initial Enrollment Period is a 7-month period that begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after your birth month. Your coverage can start as early as the first day of the month you turn 65, unless your birthday is on the first day of the month. In that case, it can start the first of the month prior to turning 65.
65th Birthday Month
If you sign up for Part A and/or Part B, during the first 3 months of your Initial Enrollment Period, coverage starts the 1st of your birthday month. If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, your coverage can start the 1st of the month prior.
If you sign up for Part A and/or Part B, during your birthday month or the 3 months after, your Part B coverage will start the 1st of the following month in which you signed up.
Medicare Insurance Plan Enrollment has key timeline requirements to be aware of. Signing up for Part B will trigger your countdown for enrolling in Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), Prescription Drug Plans (Part D) and/or Medicare Supplement Plans (“Medigap”) during your “guaranteed issue” period. Missing these enrollment deadlines may result in penalties, gaps in your healthcare coverage due to a coverage start date delay and loss of your guaranteed issue rights.
- You have 3-months from your Part A effective date to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
- You have 2-months after employer coverage ends if you were already enrolled in Part A to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and/or 2-months after a loss of your creditable drug coverage to enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
- You have 6-months after your Part B effective date or date employer coverage ends to sign up for a Medicare Supplement (“Medigap”) Plan without having to go through a medical underwriting review.
- Once approved, Medicare insurance plans can start as early as the 1st of the month following the date your application is submitted.