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Signing up for Medicare

Turning 65 soon? You’ve probably gotten a lot of information about Medicare. That information includes important dates and deadlines. They're important because if you miss certain deadlines, you may end up paying more for your health coverage.

The chart below will help you understand the basics of when you should sign up for Medicare Part A and B. That’s the insurance you get from the government. If you want more than Original Medicare, we show you when you can sign up for Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, Part D prescription drug plans—if you need one—and supplement insurance plans.

If you currently get your health coverage through an employer, your Medicare options could be different. It’s a good idea to talk to your employer about what will happen when you turn 65. Learn more.

Medicare isn’t just for people 65 and older.

People with certain disabilities can get Medicare before they turn 65. Find out who's eligible and when.

What it's called What it means
What you can do When you can do it
Initial enrollment
You can sign up for Medicare for the first time during your initial enrollment.

Want to sign up for a supplement plan? Look in the table below under special enrollment.

Enroll in Original Medicare Part A and B

Then you can enroll in Part C or D.

You have a 7-month time frame:
  • The 3 months before your birthday month
  • The month of your birthday
  • The 3 months after your birthday month
Annual enrollment
It's an opportunity to enroll in or change Part C and D plans each year. Enroll in Part C or D—if you didn't during your initial enrollment—or change your Part C or D plan. Oct. 15 - Dec. 7
General enrollment Use this enrollment to get Original Medicare Part A and B if you missed your initial enrollment.
Enroll in Part A or B. You could end up paying more for your coverage. Jan. 1 - Mar. 31

Special enrollment

To qualify for this kind of enrollment, you have to meet certain conditions. There are a lot of different rules for all the different plans. So be sure to do some research if you think any of these may apply to you.

What plans
What it means What you can do When you can do it

Original Medicare
Part A and B


This special enrollment is for people 65 and over who are currently working and get health insurance from their employer. You can enroll in Part A and B if:
  • You missed initial enrollment.
  • You lose coverage from your employer. You get 8 months to enroll without penalty.
Any time during the year.
Part C or D This is for people who meet certain conditions, like if you move out of your plan's service area or lose a Part C plan you had through an employer. If you qualify, you can enroll in a Part C or D plan.
Any time during the year.
Supplement (Medigap) plans You can apply for a supplement plan any time of the year. But with some plans, your payment may be lower and you can't be turned down for coverage because of your health if you apply during special enrollment.
Apply for a supplement plan.
  • The first six months after you enroll in Medicare Part B.
  • Any time during the year if you meet certain conditions. See What's a special enrollment period? for more information.

Medicare Advantage disenrollment

Sometimes you leave a plan because of changes in your life, or changes by your insurance company. In these cases, you may qualify for special enrollment. Other times, you may decide a Medicare Advantage plan you bought isn't for you. Then you can use the Medicare Advantage disenrollment period.

What plans What it means
What you can do When you can do it
Part C and D
Did you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that you no longer want? You can only leave the plan during a certain time.

Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to just Original Medicare.

After you’ve returned to Original Medicare, you can add a Part D plan during the same time.

Jan. 1 – Feb. 14

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Page Last Updated Thu Jul 03 14:21:57 EDT 2014