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Medicare General Enrollment Period

Summary: The annual General Enrollment Period is your first chance to apply for Medicare coverage if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period. Learn all about the GEP and how you can enroll in coverage during this time. Estimated Read Time: 9 mins

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Table of Contents:

      1. What is the General Enrollment Period for Medicare?
      2. Medicare General Enrollment Period 2023 Updates
      3. Medicare’s General Enrollment Period
      4. General Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B
      5. Can I Delay Medicare Part B During the General Enrollment Period?
      6. How Does the General Enrollment Period Work with Medicare Part D?
      7. What is the Difference Between Medicare Open Enrollment and General Enrollment?
      8. How to Enroll in Medicare During the General Enrollment Period

The Medicare General Enrollment Period is available for those who miss their chance to apply for Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) during the Initial Enrollment Period. The Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP) is your chance to sign up for the health care coverage you are entitled to if you do not qualify for enrollment under a special circumstance. Even if you are eligible for Original Medicare, you can only enroll during specific time periods. Thus, the General Enrollment Period is essential for those who do not enroll in Medicare when they are first eligible.

Like the employer coverage you may be used to, Medicare only allows you to enroll during an enrollment period. Below, we review the Medicare General Enrollment Period, who is eligible, and how to enroll.

What is the General Enrollment Period for Medicare?

The General Enrollment Period for Medicare occurs between January 1 and March 31 each year. Aside from qualifying for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life event, this is your only chance to apply for Original Medicare after your Initial Enrollment Period.

When you sign up for Original Medicare benefits during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage begins on the first day of the month following your enrollment. Thus, if you enroll on February 12, your coverage starts on March 1. Remember, if you delay Medicare enrollment without creditable coverage, you should budget for late enrollment penalties. So, if you enroll in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, you might be responsible for these late fees.

The General Enrollment Period should not be your first choice time frame to enroll in Medicare health insurance. This enrollment period should only be used as a backup if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period.

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Medicare General Enrollment Period 2023 Updates

The Medicare General Enrollment Period for 2023 is the first time enrollees can sign up for coverage that begins on the first day of the following month. In previous years, signing up for Original Medicare during the General Enrollment Period meant waiting until July 1 for your coverage to go into effect.

Thus, those who had to pay late enrollment penalties accrued extra late fees for the months between their enrollment and July 1. Now, Medicare hopes to reduce late enrollment penalties by allowing coverage to begin earlier than before.

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Moving forward, the General Enrollment Period will allow coverage to go active the month following enrollment.

Medicare’s General Enrollment Period

Medicare General Enrollment Period (GEP)

The Medicare General Enrollment Period allows you to sign up for coverage if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period and do not have a Special Enrollment Period. You can use the Medicare General Enrollment Period to apply for Medicare Part A or Part B at any time in January, February, or March.

When you use this enrollment period, your Medicare coverage is effective the first day of the following month. Meaning you will not need to wait longer to use your benefits.

Depending on how long you went without creditable coverage, you could be assessed a late enrollment penalty if you enroll during the General Enrollment Period. Therefore, it is vital to apply when you first become eligible. Choosing to lapse in coverage is not wise, especially after age 65.

After enrolling in Original Medicare, you will be eligible for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) or Medicare Advantage plan. So, if you want to enroll in either coverage type, you should ensure the effective date is the same as for your Original Medicare.

You can enroll in a Medigap plan at any time. However, outside of your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period, you must go through the Medicare Supplement underwriting questions, which means you may face denial due to pre-existing conditions.

In addition to Medigap, it is wise to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you do not already have creditable drug coverage for Medicare.

There is also a Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty. So, if you do not have drug coverage at least as good as Medicare, enrolling in a plan will save you from paying the penalty later.

On the other hand, you will also receive an Initial Coverage Election Period for Medicare Advantage if you do not enroll in a Medigap plan. You must register in a Medicare Advantage plan before your Part B effective date.

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General Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B

Suppose you enroll in Medicare Part A during your Initial Enrollment Period and delay Medicare Part B. In that case, you could use the General Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare Part B benefits if you do not qualify for a Medicare Part B Special Enrollment Period.

To qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you must have creditable coverage. Creditable coverage prevents you from paying the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty. However, suppose you do not have creditable coverage. In that case, the next time you can enroll in Original Medicare is during the General Enrollment Period, and a late enrollment penalty may be applicable. You must enroll in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period and pay the late enrollment penalty, if applicable.

Can I Delay Medicare Part B During the General Enrollment Period?

The only circumstance in which you may delay Medicare Part B while avoiding a late enrollment penalty is if you have employer coverage through your job or your spouse.

If you delay Medicare Part B enrollment due to creditable coverage, such as group coverage through your employer, you do not have to worry about the late enrollment penalty. Thus, enrolling in Medicare Part A only during the General Enrollment period is not an issue.

When you retire, you get a Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B. You will not need to wait until the next General Enrollment Period to get coverage.

How Does the General Enrollment Period Work with Medicare Part D?

When you enroll in either Medicare Part A or Part B during the General Enrollment Period, you will receive a Medicare Part D Special Enrollment Period to choose your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

If you sign up for Original Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, you can apply for a Medicare Part D plan.

The Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty is 1% of the average Medicare Part D plan premium for each month you delay Medicare Part D coverage. For example, if you delay Medicare prescription drug coverage for 25 months, you will be charged 25% of the average Medicare Part D plan on top of your chosen plan’s premium.

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Suppose you do not sign up for prescription drug coverage when you first become eligible for Medicare and lack creditable coverage. In that case, you will need to pay the monthly penalty with your premium. However, this penalty is calculated by the number of months you delayed coverage rather than years.

What is the Difference Between Medicare Open Enrollment and General Enrollment?

Many people believe Medicare Open Enrollment and General Enrollment are the same. This is not true. Medicare (Supplement) Open Enrollment is a window unique to you. It allows you to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without underwriting health questions when first signing up for Original Medicare.

Additionally, the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period is another name for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which is from October 15 through December 7 each year. The Open Enrollment Period concerns Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

If you sign up for Original Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, your Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment and your Initial Coverage Election Period (for Medicare Advantage) will follow your Original Medicare enrollment.

If you decide to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan in the future, you may need to answer underwriting health questions. So, your policy can be denied due to pre-existing health conditions. However, you will never need to answer underwriting health questions when enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. Thus, you can receive Medicare Advantage coverage regardless of your health, but you can only enroll in Medicare Advantage during specific election periods.

How to Enroll in Medicare During the General Enrollment Period

Enrolling in Medicare during the General Enrollment Period is a crucial step for individuals who missed their initial enrollment window. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to navigate this process effectively:

Contact Your Local Social Security Office: Initiating the Medicare enrollment process is as simple as reaching out to your local Social Security office. You can choose to do this online through the Social Security Administration’s website, over the phone, or by visiting your nearest office in person. The online option is particularly convenient, as it allows you to complete the application from the comfort of your home.

Enroll in Original Medicare Coverage by Selecting the General Enrollment Period: When applying during the General Enrollment Period, it’s vital to select the correct enrollment period. This period typically runs from January 1st to March 31st each year. Delaying enrollment might result in a gap in your healthcare coverage, which can be costly and potentially leave you without necessary medical assistance.

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Determine Which Additional Coverage Plans You Need: While Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) provides essential healthcare coverage, it may not cover all of your medical expenses.

You could consider a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan to help fill the gaps in Original Medicare coverage, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

There are also Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. If you need prescription drug coverage, enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan is crucial. These plans may vary in terms of the medications they cover and their associated costs, so it’s essential to choose one that aligns with your specific prescription needs.

Lastly, there are Medicare Advantage Plans. Also called Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans offer an alternative way to receive your Medicare benefits. When selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s essential to review the network of healthcare providers and the coverage it provides in your area.

Get Help With Medicare Enrollment During the General Enrollment Period

Nobody should have to enroll in Medicare alone. At MedicareFAQ, we are here to help.

We believe in educating our clients to help them find the policy that brings them the most value and benefits. Because we work with various carriers, we help simplify the shopping experience for Medicare insurance.

Regardless of which Medicare enrollment period you need to use, or the plan in which you wish to enroll, we can help. Contact us today at the number above, or use our rate form to get a free side-by-side plan comparison for the options in your area.

Sources

MedicareFAQ is dedicated to providing you with authentic and trustworthy Medicare information. We have strict sourcing guidelines and work diligently to serve our readers with accurate and up-to-date content.

  1. When Does Medicare Coverage Start, Medicare.gov. Accessed September 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/sign-up/when-does-medicare-coverage-start
  2. Learn More About the Medicare General Enrollment Period, NCOA. Accessed September 2022.
    https://www.ncoa.org/article/a-closer-look-at-the-medicare-general-enrollment-period
Kayla Hopkins

Kayla Hopkins

Content Editor
Kayla Hopkins is an accomplished writer and Medicare guru serving as the Editor of MedicareFAQ.com. Upon completing her Communications degree from Ohio University, Kayla dedicated her time to understanding the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare. With her extensive background as a Licensed Medicare Insurance Agent, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing.
Ashlee Zareczny

Ashlee Zareczny

Compliance Manager
Ashlee Zareczny is the Compliance Manager for MedicareFAQ. As a licensed Medicare agent in all 50 states, she is dedicated to educating those eligible for Medicare by providing the necessary resources and tools. Additionally, Ashlee trains new and tenured Medicare agents on CMS compliance guidelines. Ashlee is a Medicare expert who specializes in Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D education.

9 thoughts on "Medicare General Enrollment Period"

  1. Being told I could sign up with creditable coverage, I waited after my IEP to do enrollment.. I am covered under my domestic partner’s employer insurance plan.
    We never got “legallÿ” married, and now I’m told I need to input a marriage license number to do SEP and avoid all penalties. OUCH.

  2. I turned 65 in June 2021 and enrolled in a plan g. When will I have to re-enroll? Before Dec. 7 or in June of 2022?

    1. Hi Tony, as long as you pay the premium each month for your Plan G coverage, the policy will auto-renew. There is nothing to do for your Medigap policy during the Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 through December 7). This timeframe only pertains to Advantage and Part D plans, so if you have prescription drug coverage through a Part D plan, make sure you want to keep it for next year!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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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