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Medicare Open Enrollment

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published December 14, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this time, Medicare recipients can change their Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage. 

Keep in mind, this is different from your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Medigap is supplement insurance sold by private insurers to help cover some of Original Medicare's out-of-pocket costs.

Most people age 65 and older are eligible for Medigap during their open enrollment period, which begins the day they are both 65 years or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. 

Important Enrollment Periods

There are several enrollment periods associated with Medicare that you should familiarize yourself with. Below, we give a brief description of each to help you get the most from your Medicare coverage.

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period 

If you're new to Medicare, you can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven-month period that:

  • Begins three months before you turn 65
  • Includes your birth month
  • Lasts three months after your 65th birthday

Some people will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, and some will have to enroll themselves. Generally, if you've received Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for at least four months before you turn 65, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare. 

If you are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare after your 24th month of receiving Social Security disability benefits. 

If you are eligible for Medicare because you have ALS, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A the month your disability benefits begin.

General Enrollment Period

If you don’t sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up during the Medicare General Enrollment Period. This period runs annually from January 1 to March 31.

Keep in mind that your coverage will not begin until July 1 and you could face late enrollment penalties.

You may also be eligible to sign up during a Special Enrollment Period.

A Note on Medigap

Some of the out-of-pocket costs that Medigap helps cover include deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.

If you have Original Medicare and would like to purchase a Medigap plan, the earliest and best time to do so is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period. Your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period starts as soon as you are at least age 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B.

During your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you can purchase a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy without any regards to:

  • Your age

  • Your current health

  • Pre-existing medical conditions

An insurance company selling Medicare Supplement Insurance cannot charge more for a policy or decline you coverage for any of the above reasons if you enroll during your Medigap OEP.

Call 1-800-995-4219 today to chat with a licensed insurance agent, or read through our comprehensive guide to learn more about the four parts of Medicare.

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