Can I Enroll in Medicare for the First Time During the Annual Enrollment Period?

Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period is for people who already have Parts A and B

Medicare offers different enrollment periods, each with its own purpose and restrictions. These enrollment periods are known as Initial Enrollment, General Enrollment, Annual Enrollment, Special Enrollment, and Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment. You’re only able to join Medicare for the first time during two of these enrollment periods. However, it’s important to know what you can do during each period to get the right plan for you. 

When Can I Enroll In Medicare for the First Time?

Joining Medicare for the first time is limited to the Initial Enrollment Period and the General Enrollment Period.

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the one time you can join without a late enrollment penalty, as well as the only time you can get the premium-free version of Medicare Part A.

You can also join Medicare Advantage and get a Medicare drug plan at this time as well.

General Enrollment lasts from January 1 to March 31. It’s for those who missed Initial Enrollment and allows you to join Medicare for the first time, but only Parts A and B.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period also takes place during the same time as the General Enrollment Period. The only difference is that this can also be a time for Medicare Advantage policyholders to switch to a different Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare. However, you cannot join Medicare Advantage for the first time, nor can you convert your Original Medicare policy into Medicare Advantage.

What Can I Do During Annual Enrollment?

The Annual Enrollment Period begins on October 15 and ends on December 7 each year. It’s only for those who already have Medicare.

This is your chance to switch or drop Medicare plans for the next year. You can also join a Medicare Advantage and/or drug plan at this time.

What Can I Do During The Special Enrollment Period?

The Special Enrollment Period allows you to join Medicare Advantage or a drug plan for the first time. This time is reserved for specific instances in which other health insurance coverage is either lost or the policyholder moves outside his or her plan’s provider network.

If you lose your employer coverage, you can join Medicare Advantage and/or a drug plan within two months — without penalty. Medicare Advantage is another way to get your Original Medicare benefits. It must offer the same coverage, and many plans include additional benefits for dental, vision, and hearing care. 

Make the Most of Every Enrollment Period

At Carolina Senior Benefits, we help our clients be prepared for what lies ahead. Whether it’s joining for the first time or switching to a different policy, we’re here to help answer your questions and get you enrolled in the right plan for your needs. Our help is FREE of charge, so call (704) 765-4689 today!