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Medicare General Enrollment Period


Did you forget to sign up for Medicare when you were first eligible? Well, the General Enrollment Period is your chance to get in on the coverage you’re entitled to. Those eligible for Medicare that delay enrollment for one reason or another will need to sign up during this period.

What is the General Enrollment Period for Medicare?

The General Enrollment Period for Medicare takes place from January 1 through March 31 of every year. When you enroll during this time, your coverage begins on July 1. It’s likely since you delayed enrollment that you’ll pay a Part B late enrollment penalty.

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How Does the Medicare General Enrollment Period Work?

Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

You can use the Medicare General Enrollment Period to enroll in Part A or Part B at any time during January, February, and March.

The coverage won’t go into effect until July 1; you won’t have your health care until then.

That’s why it’s crucial to take advantage of your Initial Enrollment Period.

For the most part, if you delay enrolling when you’re first eligible, you risk having to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty

Can I Apply for Medicare Part B During GEP if I already have Part A?

If you already have Part A and only need to enroll in Part B, you will need to complete this form. Once complete, you can either mail it to the Social Security office or bring it to them in person.

Can I Delay Part B During the General Enrollment Period?

The only circumstance you can generally delay Part B and avoid a late enrollment penalty is if you’re actively working past 65 and enrolled in employer coverage. Or if you’re covered under your spouse’s employer group plan.

If you delayed enrolling in Part B due to having creditable coverage, such as group coverage through your employer, you don’t have to worry about being impacted by the Part B late enrollment penalty.

When you retire, you’ll be given a Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Part B. You won’t have to wait until the General Enrollment Period comes around to sign up.

How Does the General Enrollment Period Work with Part D?

When you enroll in either Part A or B during the General Enrollment Period, you’ll also get a related Part D Special Enrollment Period to choose your Part D prescription drug coverage. You can enroll in a Medicare drug plan from April through June; your coverage will begin July 1. All other Medicare parts you joined during the Medicare General Enrollment Period will also start on July 1.

Just like Part B, there is a Part D late enrollment penalty if you don’t sign up when you first become eligible. However, the penalty is calculated by the number of months you delayed coverage vs. the number of years.

When is the General Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage?

Just like Part D, when you enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, you’ll get a Special Enrollment Period to choose a Medicare Advantage plan.

You can enroll in a private Medicare Advantage plan from April through June with a July 1 effective date.

FAQs

What is a valid Medicare Enrollment Period?
A valid enrollment period means your Initial Enrollment Period or the General Enrollment Period. It could even mean a Special Enrollment Period. Several Medicare enrollment periods are valid.
When does the General Enrollment Period for Medicare begin in 2021?
The next General Enrolment Period begins on January 1, 2021.
When does the General Enrollment Period for Medicare end in 2021?
The next General Enrollment Period will end on March 31, 2021.
When is the first opportunity to join Medicare Part A and B?
The Initial Enrollment Period is the first opportunity you have to sign up for Medicare.

How to Get Help During the General Enrollment Period

Nobody should have to navigate the Medicare maze alone. Here at MedicareFAQ, we believe in helping you find the policy that brings you the most value. Since we work with a variety of carriers, we make shopping for Medicare insurance simple. No matter which Medicare sign-up period you need to use, we can help you.

Contact us today at the number above, or use our rate form to get started now.

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Lindsay Malzone

Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ. She has been working in the Medicare industry since 2017. She is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare. You can also find her over on our Medicare Channel on YouTube as well as contributing to our Medicare Community on Facebook.

6 thoughts on “Medicare General Enrollment Period

  1. Hi Lindsay, Thank you for this helpful information. I have a couple of follow up questions.
    I am 67 and still working but I am covered by my husband’s health plan through the State of MN. My husband has decided to retire this October and so I just completed my online application for Medicare Part B. Will my application be processed now, or will I need to wait for the GEP next year? Also, will I have to pay a penalty for waiting until now? Thank you for your time!

    1. Hi Yvonne! Thank you for the positive feedback! Assuming your husbands’ employer had more than 20 employees, you had creditable coverage. This gives you an 8-month Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare. You will not be penalized for delaying enrollment, and you do not have to wait until the GEP to enroll. Did the application ask when you wanted coverage to start? If not, it will start the first of the month after your enrollment is processed. You can always call Medicare and ask them to delay your Part B until the first of the month after your current coverage is canceled.

  2. Hi Lindsay, My mother is 81. She is enrolled in Medicare part B (since she turned 65) but not part A. She started getting SSI in December 2019. Can she enroll in part A now? If so, how can she do so?

  3. Hi Lindsay, Hope your day is going well. I am not going to retire until 66 and 2 months. I will be 65 this December. Do I sign up for Medicare now or will this be to early. I don’t want to have that 10% penalty thrown at me.

    1. Hi Douglas! The General Enrollment Period is for this who did not enroll in Part A and Part B when they were first eligible. Since you’re just turning 65 in December, your Initial Enrollment Period window started in September and ends in March. So, your IEP will overlap with the GEP, but your IEP is what you will use to enroll. Yes, you can enroll now. You will want to enroll in Part A since it will be premium-free. If you’re still working and your employer has more than 20 employees, then your group coverage will be considered creditable and you can delay enrolling in Part B until after you leave the group coverage. If your employer has less than 20 employees, then you would need to sign up for Part B during your IEP to avoid the penalty. You can apply for Medicare online now for coverage to begin December 1st.

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