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Joining a health or drug plan

When can I join, switch, or drop a plan?

You can join, switch, or drop a 

 or a 

 with or without drug coverage during these times:

  • Initial Enrollment Period. When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join a plan.
  • Open Enrollment Period. From October 15 – December 7 each year, you can join, switch, or drop a plan. Your coverage will begin on January 1 (as long as the plan gets your request by December 7).
  • Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. From January 1 – March 31 each year, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare (and join a separate Medicare drug plan) once during this time. 

Learn more below about enrollment periods below.

When you first get Medicare (Initial Enrollment Periods for Part C & Part D)

I’m newly eligible for Medicare because I turned 65.

What can I do?

Sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or a Medicare drug plan.

When?

During the 7-month period that:

  • Starts 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 joinYour coverage begins
During one of the 3 months before you turn 65The first day of the month you turn 65
During the month you turn 65The first day of the month after you ask to join the plan
During one of the 3 months after you turn 65The first day of the month after you ask to join the plan
I’m newly eligible for Medicare because I have a disability (under 65).

What can I do?

Sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare drug plan. Your Medicare coverage begins 24 months after you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) disability benefits.

When?

During the 7-month period that:

  • Starts 3 months before your 25th month of getting Social Security or RRB disability benefits
  • Includes your 25th month of getting disability benefits
  • Ends 3 months after your 25th month of getting disability benefits
If you joinYour coverage begins
During one of the 3 months before you first get MedicareThe first day of your 25th month of entitlement to disability payments
During your 25th month of getting disabilityThe first day of the month after you ask to join the plan
During one of the 3 months after your 25th month of getting disabilityThe first day of the month after you ask to join the plan
I’m already eligible for Medicare because of a disability, and I turned 65.

What can I do?

  • Sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or a Medicare drug plan.
  • Switch from your current Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug plan to another plan.
  • Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare drug plan completely.

When?

During the 7-month period that:

  • Starts 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 joinYour coverage begins
During one of the 3 months before you turn 65The first day of the month you turn 65
During the month you turn 65The first day of the month after you ask to join the plan
During one of the 3 months after you turn 65The first day of the month after you ask to join the plan

If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan during this time, you can drop that plan any time during the next 12 months and go back to Original Medicare.

I don’t have Medicare Part A, and I enrolled in Medicare Part B during the Part B General Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31).

What can I do?

Sign up for a Medicare drug plan.

When?

April 1–June 30

Your coverage will start July 1.

During certain times each year (yearly enrollment periods for Part C & Part D)

Each year, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage or Medicare drug coverage for the following year. There are 2 separate enrollment periods each year:

Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare drug coverage.

What can I do?

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan. 
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
  • Join a Medicare drug plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
  • Drop your Medicare drug coverage completely.

When?

October 15–December 7 

Your coverage will start January 1.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Enrollment Period

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

What can I do?

  • If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage).
  • You can drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. You’ll also be able to join a separate Medicare drug plan.

 What can’t I do? 

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Join a Medicare drug plan if you’re in Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another if you’re in Original Medicare
Note

If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or go back to Original Medicare (with or without a drug plan) within the first 3 months you have Medicare.

When?

January 1–March 31

Your coverage will start the first day of the month after you ask to join the plan.

Source: https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/joining-a-health-or-drug-plan

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“We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800 MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.”