There are specific times when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare drug coverage, or make changes to coverage you already have:
- Initial Enrollment Period. When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join a plan. This is during the 7-month period that begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
- Open Enrollment Period. From October 15 – December 7 each year, you can join a Medicare Advantage or Medicare drug plan, switch plans, or drop a plan. If you made a change, your coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year.
- 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. Any changes you make will be effective the first of the month after the plan receives your request.
- Special Election Period. In most cases, you must stay enrolled in your plan for the calendar year starting the date your coverage begins. However, when certain events happen in your life (for example, if you move out of your plan’s service area or lose other insurance coverage) you may be able to make changes to your Medicare health and drug coverage.