Medicare Part D Enrollment is typically during the fall of the previous year. However, certain situations arise where you may want or need to enroll in a prescription drug plan outside of Medicare Part D Open Enrollment. Below we’ll discuss the Initial Enrollment Period, Annual Election Period, Special Enrollment Period as well as answers some additional questions about the varies enrollment periods available.
Medicare Part D Enrollment
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The best time to sign up is during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare Part D, which is the same 7-month window as the enrollment period for Original Medicare. This period begins three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and expires three months after. Enroll for a Medicare part D plan as soon as you enroll for original Medicare to avoid any penalties.
Annual Election Period (AEP)
You can also enroll during the Annual Election Period (AEP). This period is also referred to as Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage or Fall Open Enrollment period for Medicare Part D. The AEP runs from 15th October to 7th December.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you become a Medicaid beneficiary, move out of your Medicare prescription drugs service area, or you are facing any other qualifying situation, you qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP). A SEP can happen during any time of the year, and you can enroll for Medicare part D or make changes to your plans.
Enrolling After you Move Across State Lines
Moving may also allow you to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan outside of the Open Enrollment Period. If you move across state lines, if your plan isn’t available in that area or if new plans become available there, you may switch plans. You can change plans the month you move, and the following two months after.
You also have this opportunity to switch plans if you enter or leave an institution, such as a nursing home. The same grace period applies–the month you move, plus the following two months after.
Enrolling After You Move Back to the United States
If you move back into the United States from a foreign country, you also have two months after you move to enroll in a plan. However, there are certain citizenship requirements in order to be eligible for a Medicare plan.
You must be a United States citizen or have been a permanent United States resident for at least five years straight in order to qualify. However, if you’re eligible for Social Security benefits, you’ll automatically be eligible to enroll in Medicare.
Enrolling After You’re Released from Jail
If you went to jail, and are eligible for Medicare upon your release, you also have a grace period to enroll. You have two months following your release in order to enroll. Incarceration will not affect your coverage if you already have a Medicare plan. However, you’ll have to pay all of your premiums in a timely fashion and the prison will typically pay for your medical care during this time.
If I change drug plans during my SEP, will my deductible transfer?
- Yes, both of your total out of pocket expenses and retail value of your prescription medications will transfer to your new prescription drug plan
I joined a Medicare Advantage drug plan during my Initial Enrollment Period earlier this year, can I change to a Part D standalone drug plan?
- Yes, you joined your MADP during your IEP and are still within the first 12 months of coverage. You get a SEP, this means you’re allowed to disenroll from your advantage plan and return back to Original Medicare. Then you can join a Part D PDP.
If I already used me SEP to change my Part D plan, can I change it again if I come across a better plan as long as I do it before my SEP is over?
- Not normally, usually you only have one chance to select a plan during your SEP. If you find another SEP that would apply to your situation, you may be allowed to change again.
I want to change plans but can’t find a SEP, can I just stop paying my plan premiums?
- Not something we would suggest you should do. Once you stop paying your premiums your plan can disenroll you and send your unpaid premium balance off to collections. You can also incur a permanent late penalty fee if you decide to enroll again in another drug plan later.
Will my Part D plan work if I’m traveling through Europe?
- Not normally, Medicare is only available in the United States. You should look into purchasing a travel insurance policy. In some situations, your plan may provide coverage for foreign versions of your medication if there was a drug shortage in the U.S.
For Additional Information
We understand that this information can be confusing, that’s why we offer multiple learning resources. For answers to more frequently asked questions, click here. If you would like to talk to a licensed agent in your area, please call the number above. To compare rates on all prescription drug plans, or any other Medicare healthcare plan, please fill out this form here to have an agent put rates side by side.