Medicare Enrollment Periods
Let's Look at some examples:
The Initial Election Period (IEP) is your initial eligibility period (that is, when you can first enroll in Medicare). It includes the three months before the month you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday, and three months after your 65th birthday.
But you can postpone your Part B Medicare coverage if you:
(1) delay retirement and keep working, and
(2) have health care coverage through your employer.
There is an Annual Election Period (AEP) each year from October 15 to December 7. During the AEP, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan with an effective date of the following year, starting January 1. You can also switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (Parts A and B), Medicare Supplement (Medigap) and Medicare Prescription Drug plans, or vice versa.
The Open Enrollment Period (OEP), running from January 1 through March 31, allows you to make a one-time change to your coverage into a “like plan”. For instance, you can move from one Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MAPD plan) to another MAPD plan, or to Original Medicare with a Part D prescription drug plan. The coverage is effective the first of the month following your change.
There are also Special Election Periods (SEP) when you can change Medicare Advantage plans. For instance, if you move to a part of the country that your current plan doesn’t cover, you can enroll in a new one. This is just one kind of SEP.
If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, you are a dual-eligible. As a "dual," you can change your Medicare Dual Special Needs plan (D-SNP) once every quarter for the first nine months of the year.
This information is provided by Virginia Premier, an HMO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment depends on contract renewal. Virginia Premier is a fully-owned subsidiary of VCU Health.