The Initial Coverage Election Period is the 7-month period you have to sign up when you first become eligible for Medicare. The 7-month period begins 3 months immediately before you are entitled to Medicare Part A and Part B, which is 3 months before your 65th birthday. The 7-month period also includes the month you turn 65, and it ends 3 months after you turn 65. You may choose a Medicare health plan during your Initial Coverage Election Period. The plan must accept you unless it has reached its limit in the number of members. This limit is approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Initial Coverage Election Period is different from the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). The Initial Enrollment Period is the first chance you have to enroll in Medicare Part B. Your IEP starts 3 months before you first meet all the eligibility requirements for Medicare and lasts for 7 months.