What Are Medicare Election Periods?
November 16, 2020 | Debby Jesser
Whether you’re new to Medicare or have been enrolled for years, figuring out when you’re able to enroll or make changes to your plan can be difficult. There is a set timeframe for when you’re first eligible to enroll in Medicare, as well an annual period in which you can make changes every year. There may also be additional opportunities to enroll or make changes at periods at other times, based on your specific plan or reason for enrolling. These are called Medicare Election Periods. Medicare election periods vary based on when and why you qualify for Medicare, as well as your specific plan.
We have a breakdown of all major Medicare election periods, but please contact Twin City Underwriters with any questions you may have.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
During the Annual Election Period, or AEP, Medicare recipients have the option to change their health and prescription drug plans for the coming year. This is when Medicare recipients can find plans that better meet their needs, allow them to use different providers or pharmacies, lower costs, or more. The AEP runs from October 15 to December 7 every year.
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)
When you first become eligible for Medicare, there is an Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP, that spans the seven months before and after your 65th birthday. During this time, you can sign up for Medicare Parts A, B and D. The Initial Coverage Election Period, or ICEP, runs for the same window of time, but applies for Medicare Part C only. If you work past 65, you will enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (see below).
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
During a Special Enrollment Period, or SEP, you’re eligible to make changes to your Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. Certain life events trigger this eligibility, such as leaving employer coverage, changing where you live, or experiencing a change in Extra Help status.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)
During this enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, those on Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have the option to enroll into a different plan, or disenroll from MA and sign up for Medicare, with or without Part D.
If you’re confused about which election period applies to your unique situation, or are ready to sign up for Medicare and need advice, Twin City Underwriters is here to help. Contact us with questions, or sign up for a free webinar to learn more.