Mature woman studying two calendars

Whether you’re just getting started with Medicare or just getting used to it, keeping track of the dates for Medicare Open Enrollment can be difficult. To make it easier, we’ve compiled the dates for Medicare Open Enrollment 2018 along with other enrollment dates you’ll need throughout your Medicare journey—whether you’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time or switching coverage.

When Is Open Enrollment for Medicare?

You may be asking, “When is Medicare Open Enrollment 2018?” It starts October 15 and ends December 7. This time frame goes by a few different names: Annual Enrollment Period, Annual Election Period (AEP), and Medicare Fall Open Enrollment. During AEP, you can switch your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D coverage or join a plan for the first time.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) Enrollment Period

During Medicare Open Enrollment, you can change your Medicare Advantage plan or switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (or vice versa). This is great for people who are getting more familiar with Medicare. If you initially chose to use Original Medicare, or you picked a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t suit your upcoming needs, you can make changes to your coverage during the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period from October 15 through December 7.

It’s a good idea to review your Medicare Advantage plan options during Medicare Open Enrollment 2018 because premiums are expected to decrease and plan options are expected to increase.

Medicare Part D Enrollment Period

If you’re asking yourself, “When can I enroll for Medicare Part D?,” it’s the same time frame as Medicare Advantage. This means that the Medicare Part D Open Enrollment also happens during the Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 through December 7.

As with the other Parts of Medicare (A, B, and C), you can enroll in Part D during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). However, you cannot make changes to your initial Part D plan decisions until the AEP.

When Am I Eligible to Get Medicare?

Your first Medicare Open Enrollment is during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). During your IEP, you can choose to enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B), Medicare Advantage (Part C), and/or Medicare Part D. The IEP begins three months before, and ends three months after, the month you turn 65. In total, the IEP lasts for seven months surrounding your birth month.

  • For example, let’s say Selma was born in May. Selma turns 65 this year, and she has begun receiving letters from Medicare. The beginning of Selma’s IEP is in February. It ends in August.

If you’re under 65 and receive disability benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you also have a seven-month IEP for the same Medicare coverage options mentioned above. Your IEP starts the three months before your 25th month of receiving disability benefits and ends three months after.

How Do I Enroll in Medicare Parts A and B if I Missed My IEP?

There are separate Medicare Open Enrollment dates if you did not sign up for Original Medicare during your IEP. The General Enrollment Period (GEP) allows you to enroll in Parts A and B, but late enrollment penalties may apply and increase your premiums. The GEP runs from January 1 through March 31 each year.

Medicare Special Enrollment Period

If you miss one of the various Medicare Open Enrollment Periods, there is still a chance you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. Special Enrollment Periods allow you to change your coverage after a qualifying life event. Some of these qualifying events (and the time you have to make changes) include:

  • Changing where you live: You have two months to make plan changes.
  • Losing your coverage: You have two months to make plan changes.
  • Getting an opportunity for other coverage: You can make changes to your coverage at any time (with a small exception for employer plans, given that companies have their own enrollment times).
  • Changes made to your plan’s Medicare contract: Your timeline will vary based on the contract’s changes.

Get Help With Medicare Open Enrollment at No Cost to You

There’s no time to waste during the Medicare Open Enrollment. Rather than comparing all of your plan options by yourself, why not ask someone who’s trained and licensed to help? A licensed insurance agent can help you review your coverage and find a plan that suits your needs for the upcoming year. An agent’s services come at no cost to you, so there is no risk in getting assistance. Call us today at (800) 488-7621 to speak to a licensed insurance agent, or find an agent near you.


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