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What to Know About Medicare’s Enrollment Periods


If you’re currently on a Medicare plan or you intend to enroll in one soon, you’ve likely heard the names of a few Medicare enrollment periods. You may wonder what the difference between each one is and how they apply to you.

When is each enrollment period?

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) – differs based on an individual’s date of birth       
  • Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) - can occur anytime during the year
  • Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) - Jan. 1 – Mar. 31
  • Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) - Oct. 15 – Dec. 7

What can you do during each enrollment period?

Your IEP is a seven-month period when you are first eligible for Medicare. It centers around your birth month, beginning three months before it and ending three months after it. For example, if your 65th birthday is Oct. 5, your IEP would begin on July 1 and end on Jan. 31. The only exception to this timing is if your birthdate falls on the first of the month. In that case, your IEP begins and ends a month sooner.

If you’d like to know about how to enroll in Medicare for the first time, we created a checklist just for you.

How to Enroll in Medicare Checklist

When certain life events happen, SEPs allow you to make changes to your medical or prescription drug coverage throughout the year. Some examples of qualifying life events include:

  • Moving to a different location
  • Losing current insurance coverage 
  • And more 

OEP is exclusively for individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. During OEP, anyone on a Medicare Advantage plan can enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll from their current plan and return to Original Medicare. Individuals can only make one change to their plan during OEP. If a plan change is made, the new plan will go into effect on the first of the following month.

AEP is for all individuals on any type of Medicare plan. During this time, you can review your current Medicare plan and explore others that may better fit your needs and budget. Throughout the year, it’s important to note any new needs that may require an adjustment in coverage so that you can select another plan if needed once AEP comes. If you choose, you can enroll in a new plan that will begin on Jan. 1. Our team is here to help you with the selection process!

Questions about enrollment periods?

If you are not currently a RetireMed client, please schedule a call with an advisor here.  

If you’re currently a RetireMed client, you can schedule a call here. We look forward to helping you!