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How Do I Enroll in Medicare?

Understanding the steps you need to take to enroll in Medicare will help to make the process go smoothly.

We will explain:

  • When you need to enroll

  • What you need to do to get ready to enroll

  • How to enroll

  • How to make a change to your enrollment


Understanding the Medicare Enrollment Periods

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set specific time periods when you can enroll in Medicare or make changes to your insurance. 

Understanding these enrollment periods is important. It puts you in control of the decisions about your health care coverage. There are different enrollment periods available to you depending on your circumstances. 

  • You are turning 65 and you are signing up for Medicare for the first time.
    You are in your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is a seven-month period that includes the three months before your birthday, the month of your birthday and the three months after your birthday. Your Initial Enrollment Period is an important time to make decisions about your Medicare coverage. If you don’t sign up during your IEP, you may have to pay late enrollment penalties for as long as you have Medicare.

  • You missed your Initial Enrollment Period and want to sign up for Medicare.
    The first quarter of every year – January 1 through March 31 – is a General Enrollment Period (GEP). If you did not sign up during your IEP, you can sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during the GEP. If you sign up for Medicare during the GEP, your coverage will begin on July 1 of the same year.
    If you sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B during the GEP, you will then be able to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan during the second quarter of the year – April 1 through June 30.

  • You worked past age 65 and stayed on your employer-provided health plan, but now you are ready to retire and need to sign up for Medicare.
    When you retire, you will get an eight-month Special Enrollment Period for Retirement. You can sign up for Medicare Part B the month after you stop working or the month after your coverage ends with your employer-provided health plan.

  • You already have Medicare, but there has been a change in your life and you need to change plans.
    A lot can happen that impacts your health care coverage needs. You might move to a new address, have a change in health care coverage from another plan or get married or divorced.
    Medicare has a list of qualifying life events that allow you to make changes to your coverage. If you experience one of these events, you will get a two-month Special Enrollment Period for a Qualifying Life Event when you will be able to switch Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D plans.

  • You enrolled in a Medicare plan, but you want to switch plans.
    Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. Anyone who is already enrolled in Medicare can add, drop or change plans during the AEP. Any changes that you make to your coverage will go into effect on January 1 of the next year.

  • You are not satisfied with your Medicare Advantage plan and want to make a change.
    You have a one-time opportunity to make a change to your Medicare Advantage Plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP). 
    The OEP is only available to people already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. You have the option to switch Medicare Advantage plans, return to Original Medicare or join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The OEP runs from January 1 through March 31.

Once you understand your eligibility and you know when you can enroll, it is time to get ready to sign up for Medicare. 

With IPA, you get more than a health plan.
You get a health partner.
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