If you are interested in enrolling in the Medicare program to receive affordable health care coverage, you may need to do so during one of the Annual Open Enrollment periods. Unlike the Initial Enrollment Period, which only occurs once in a lifetime, this period occurs every year. Here is what you need to know about applying for Medicare during the Annual Open Enrollment Period.
When Is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment occurs annually from October 15 to December 7. During this period, you can either join, switch, or drop coverage. If you choose to enroll during this period, your coverage will begin on January 1. Though, if the plan you apply for does not receive your request by midnight on December 7, your coverage may begin later.
Other Enrollment Periods
If the Annual Enrollment Period has already passed, there are several other enrollment periods you may be able to take advantage of. These are the other Medicare enrollment periods:
General Enrollment Period
Begins January 1 and ends March 31 each year if you did not sign up for Medicare when you were first eligible. If you apply during this period, your coverage begins on July 1. If you didn’t enroll when first eligible, you may be required to pay late enrollment penalties for Part A and/or Part B. Speak with a Medicare professional to learn more.
Special Enrollment Periods
If you are unable to enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period and a standard enrollment period isn’t available either, you may be able to enroll under special circumstances. Special Enrollment Periods allow you to sign up for Medicare when you otherwise would not be allowed to. Some examples of when a Special Enrollment Period may start include the month after employment ends and the month after a group health plan insurance based on current employment ends. If you sign up during an SEP, late enrollment penalties likely will not apply.