There are certain times each year when you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. It is usually best to enroll in a plan by calling 1-800-MEDICARE, rather than by calling the new plan. To join an MA Plan, you must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. You can typically enroll in Medicare Advantage during the following periods:
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): Seven-month period, including the three months before, the month of, and the three months after the month you first become eligible for Medicare (either your 65th birth month or the 25th month you have collected disability benefits).
- The Part B Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Periods of time outside normal enrollment periods to enroll in Part B. The Part B SEP lets you delay enrollment in Part B without penalty if you were covered by job-based insurance when you first become eligible for Medicare. You can enroll in Medicare without penalty for up to eight months after you lose job-based coverage. You can enroll in an MA Plan after you have signed up for Part A and B coverage.
- General Enrollment Period (GEP): The January through March period each year when you can sign up for Medicare if you did not sign up for it when you originally became eligible. Coverage starts July 1. You can sign up for Medicare Advantage April through June, after you have signed up for Parts A and B during the GEP.
- Fall Open Enrollment Period: The October 15 through December 7 period each year when you can change your Medicare coverage. You can pick a new MA Plan, or switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. You can also change your Part D coverage during this time.
Note: If you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can usually only join an MA Plan if it is a Special Needs Plan that specifically accepts people with ESRD. You can also keep your plan if you enrolled before you developed ESRD.