Medicare General Enrollment Period is January 1 to March 31
The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is January 1 through March 31 of each year. During this time, you can enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B if you decided to delay enrollment when you first became eligible or if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period(IEP). Your IEP is the 7-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65 and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65.
Many people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B during their IEP because they are already receiving social security benefits. Some circumstances may result in you not enrolling in both Parts A and B of Medicare during your IEP. For example:
- You, or your spouse, are working and you receive health insurance through an employer.
- You receive health insurance through a union or Railroad Retirement benefit.
- You choose not to enroll in Part B and pay the premium. (Part A is premium-free for most people.)
- You were not receiving social security benefits when you turned 65 and did not proactively enroll in Medicare during your IEP.
- You missed your IEP.
If any of these apply to you, or if you otherwise refused, terminated, or withdrew from Medicare Part A or Part B, then you can enroll or re-enroll during a GEP. Your coverage will begin on July 1 of the year you enroll.
Possible Part B Premium Penalty
You may be charged a premium penalty for late or delayed enrollment in Part B. The penalty is 10% for each 12-month period that you could have had Part B and didn’t take it. For example, if you were eligible for Part B in 2010 and you sign up during the 2012 GEP, then your premium will be 20% more than it would have been otherwise. The added charge to your premium continues for as long as you have Part B.
Late Enrollment in Part D
When you enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B during a GEP, you may have to wait until the next Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). If you have been without creditable drug coverage for more than 63 days when you enroll in Part D, a late enrollment penalty may apply.
Special Enrollment Period When Qualified
People who decide to wait to enroll in Medicare Part B because they have group health coverage through an employer or union may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If this applies to you, you can sign up for Medicare Part B without penalty at these times:
- While you are still covered by an employer or union group health plan, through your or your spouse’s employment.
- During the 8 months following the month when your or your spouse’s employer or union group health plan coverage ends or when your or your spouse’s employment ends, whichever comes first.
Be sure to enroll at least two months before you lose the group health coverage to avoid a gap in your health insurance coverage.
–This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear