By Chris Pham
As you approach the age of Medicare eligibility, the Initial Enrollment Period is undoubtedly a crucial time. Aside from your Initial Enrollment Period, Medicare has 4 different enrollment periods:
- Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
- Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
- General Enrollment Period (GEP)
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
First, there is your Initial Enrollment Period which is known as IEP. This is a 7-month window which includes the 3 months prior to your birth month, your birth month, and the 3 months after your birth month. During your Initial Enrollment Period, you can choose to enlist in Original Medicare, which consist of Part A, Part B, and Part D (drug coverage). Or you can opt to select Part C which is known as Medicare Advantage Plans.
Next, is AEP which is your Annual Enrollment Period. This occurs annually from October 15th -December 7th. This enrollment period is for participants of Medicare Advantage plans and Part D plans to make changes.
Then, there is a GEP, which is called the General Enrollment Period (January 1st-March 31). If you miss your initial enrollment, this General Enrollment Period allows you to enroll in only original Medicare and you may still be subject to late enrollment penalties when enrolling during GEP.
Lastly, there is SEP which is a Special Enrollment Period. This enrollment applies to those that move outside their coverage area or lose their coverage at no fault of their own. You will then have two months to select a new plan (Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement and Part D, or Medicare Advantage Plan).
When selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan during your IEP, it is important to keep in mind that changes can only be made during the AEP. Outside your allotted seven-month window, you will not be permitted to make changes until October 15th-Decemeber 7th of each year. In essence, you are only allowed to change your plan once a year.
You’ve worked hard, you deserve the entitled benefits! We want to help you attain that. However, you must remember that failure to recognize these important dates, could mean consequences later. Take a moment to learn about the enrollment periods covered under the Medicare program. We can make it as easy as pie, Medicare in a Nutshell!