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Medicare Part D Enrollment Periods

Summary: Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have three enrollment periods. It’s important to know what and when these Part D enrollment periods are, so you don’t get hit with the Part D late enrollment penalty, which can get expensive. Learn more about when and how to sign up for Medicare Part D here. Estimated Read Time: 4 mins

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Table of Contents:

  1. Medicare Enrollment Period Part D
  2. Medicare Part D Initial Enrollment Period
  3. Medicare Part D Special Enrollment Period
  4. Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period
  5. Enrolling in Medicare Part D Outside of an Enrollment Period

Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. If you’re new to Medicare or are enrolled in any part of Original Medicare but do not yet have prescription drug coverage, you’re probably wondering, “When is enrollment for Medicare Part D?” If you want to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan, there are three different enrollment periods to know about.

It is important to understand enrollment periods to avoid the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty. This penalty stays with you for as long as you have a Medicare Part D plan.

Medicare Enrollment Period Part D

To enroll in Medicare Part D, you must first enroll in at least one part of Original Medicare. This means you must have Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or both. Once enrolled, you become eligible to sign up for a Medicare Part D policy to help cover your prescription drugs.

There are three Medicare Part D enrollment periods. These include:

  • Initial Enrollment period
  • Special Enrollment Period
  • Annual Enrollment Period

Each Medicare Part D enrollment period has unique qualifications and enrollment windows. Below, we dive into each enrollment so you are as prepared as possible when enrolling in coverage.

Medicare Part D Initial Enrollment Period

The Medicare Part D Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the first opportunity you receive to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D). The Initial Enrollment Period begins on the first day of the month, three months before your 65th birthday or the date your Original Medicare coverage becomes active. Thus, everyone’s Initial Enrollment Period is different. Once it begins, your Initial Enrollment Period ends on the last day of the month, three months following your Original Medicare active date.

Once you enroll in Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B, you can also use your Initial Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare Part D. During this time; you can compare each Medicare Part D plan available in your area to determine the right plan for you. It is important to review all available plans to ensure you are enrolled in a plan for your healthcare needs and budget.

Any elections you make during this time will go into effect on the first day of the month you turn 65. If you enroll during your birth month or after, elections will go into effect on the first of the following month.

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If you do not enroll in Part D coverage during your Part D IEP, it is essential to have creditable prescription drug coverage in place in the meantime, to avoid the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty. This credible coverage could come from your current employer, union, or other credible coverage source. Never assume the coverage you have is creditable. Always check with your plan administrator or your local Social Security Administration to ensure your coverage is credible before you delay Part D.

Medicare Part D Special Enrollment Period

Medicare Part D Special Enrollment Periods occur when certain situations or events happen in life. Special Enrollment Periods give you a chance to make changes to your current Medicare Part D plan or enroll in a Medicare Part D plan outside of a typical Medicare Part D enrollment period. However, to enroll in a plan for the first time, you must meet all other Medicare Part D eligibility requirements.

Several events can trigger a Special Enrollment Period. These include changing where you live, becoming eligible for new coverage outside of Medicare, losing your current coverage, changes to your current plan’s contract with Medicare, and other special situations.

Keep in mind each situation has its own set of rules. So be sure you fully understand your Special Enrollment Period to avoid mistakes in enrollment.

The changes you make during a Special Enrollment Period will go into effect on the first of the following month.

Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period occurs each fall from October 15 to December 7. If you delay Medicare Part D coverage and do not have creditable drug coverage, this is your chance to enroll in a prescription drug plan for the following year.

During this time, you may also change your prescription drug plan or drop prescription drug coverage altogether.

Each year Medicare Part D plan formulary changes are released on October 1. Reviewing the changes to your plan’s formulary and comparing it to other plans in your area is important. Doing so will ensure you receive the best coverage year after year.

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You can make multiple changes during this time, but your last change made before the December 7 deadline will be the one that goes into effect. Once you make your final change, your new coverage will start on January 1 of the following year.

Enrolling in Medicare Part D Outside of an Enrollment Period

Unfortunately, beneficiaries are not eligible to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan outside of the three enrollment periods. Thus, enrollment in Medicare Part D is limited to the above timeframes only.

If you are prescribed a medication that is not covered on your Medicare Part D plan’s formulary, you may have additional options to help you receive the drug until the next enrollment period comes around.

Services like Cost Plus Drugs, GoodRx, or manufacturer coupons are occasionally available to help lower the cost of certain drugs. However, these coupons are not always guaranteed, so you should not rely on them. Formulary exceptions are a possibility as well but are also not guaranteed.

How to Get Help with Enrolling in Medicare Part D

Enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan does not have to be a difficult task. Understanding the enrollment periods and how they work is the first step to successfully enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan. If you’re confused or still unsure of what your best option is, do not worry. We can help you!

Our licensed insurance agents are happy to help clear up any confusion or answer any questions you may have regarding Medicare Part D coverage and enrollment.

We will compare plans and provide you with all the quotes you need, free of charge. Give us a call at the number above or fill out our online rate comparison form to get started today!

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. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Accessed August 2023.
    https://www.cms.gov/medicare/enrollment-renewal/part-d-plans
  2. KFF. Accessed August 2023.
    https://www.kff.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2012/10/11219.pdf
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.

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