General Enrollment Period

Between January 1–March 31 each year

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Different Parts of Medicare 

A = Hospital
B = Doctor Visits - Out Patient
C = Medicare Advantage or Medi Gap
D = Part D Rx

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If somehow you missed a deadline to enroll in parts A Hospital or B Doctor Visits, you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B during the General Enrollment Period between January 1–March 31 each year if both of these apply:

You must pay premiums for Part A and/or Part B. Your coverage will start July 1. You may have to pay a higher premium for late enrollment in Part A and/or a higher premium for late enrollment in Part B.

Note

To sign up for Part B, complete an Application for Enrollment in Part B (CMS-40B). Get this form and instructions in Spanish. If you don’t have Medicare or you want to sign up for Part A (some people have to pay a premium for Part A), contact Social Security.

When can one enroll in Medicare A & B?

Graphic of when you can enroll based on turning age 65
Graphic of when you can enroll based on turning age 65  *  Publication 11036  *

When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B.

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Example

For example, if you’re eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, you can sign up during the 7-month period that:

  • Begins 3 months before the month you turn 65
  • Includes the month you turn 65
  • Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65

If you have to buy Part A and/or Part B, you can only sign up during a valid enrollment period.

Note

If you wait until the month you turn 65 (or the 3 months after you turn 65) to enroll, your Part B coverage will be delayed. This could cause a gap in your coverage.

In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B when you’re first eligible, you’ll have to pay a late enrollment penalty. You’ll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B and could have a gap in your health coverage.

Find out when you’re eligible for Medicare.

The best time to sign up is 3 months before your 65th birthday and coverage will start on the 1st of the month of your birthday.   Be sure to let your prior carrier know at least 30 days in advance.  Especially if it's Covered CA!  That way you don't have double premiums and duplicate coverage.

Once you enroll in Parts A & B, you are then eligible to get a Medi Gap Plan and part D Rx or Medicare Advantage (HMO) to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn't pay.  Please note that prescription drug coverage is mandatory with a penalty when you eventually sign up, if you didn't  sign up when you are supposed to.

3 comments on “General Enrollment Period – If you didn’t sign up at the right time

  1. I went to Social Security on March 31 and got all signed up. Now they say they have a record of me being there, but no record of signing up. What do I do?

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