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Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods

Trying to understand all of the Medicare enrollment periods can sometimes be confusing.  One in particular is the Open Enrollment Period, which shouldn’t be confused with the Medicare General Enrollment Period. There are three different types of Open Enrollment Periods: Medigap Open Enrollment, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage, Open Enrollment, and Medicare Advantage Only Open Enrollment.

The Medigap Open Enrollment Period (Medigap is also known as a Medicare Supplement) begins on the 1st day of the month in which you are 65 AND enrolled in Medicare Part B, lasting a total of 6 months. During this time you are considered a “guaranteed-issue.” This means all Medigap carriers are required to accept you into their plan with no health questions or underwriting. Most insurance companies will allow you to apply for a Medicare Supplement policy 2-3 months prior to your Medicare eligibility. However, the policy will not take effect until you are Medicare eligible.

The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan Open Enrollment Periods are October 15th through December 7th of every year. During this time you can enroll, disenroll, or change your Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan or your stand alone Prescription Drug Plan. This also sometimes referred to as the Medicare Annual Election Period.

Lastly, the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period is January 1st through February 14th of every year. During this time you can disenroll or change from a Medicare Advantage Plan and go back to Original Medicare. These two periods are not be confused, they are not the same.

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