When You Can Choose and Change Medicare Plans
You make a Medicare health plan choice when you first become eligible for Medicare. Each year after, you can choose to keep your same Medicare health plan for the next year or change plans during the annual election period (AEP), November 15 to December 31.
Signing up the first time
If you're approaching age 65, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage health plan:
- Three months before your 65th birthday
- The month of your 65th birthday
- Three months after your 65th birthday
People who get benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) automatically get Medicare Part A starting the first day of the month they turn age 65. People who are under age 65 and disabled automatically get Part A after they get disability benefits from Social Security or RRB for 24 months.
If you're still working
If you plan to continue working after your 65th birthday, talk with the benefits administrator at your company or organization. Find out how your current health plan differs from - or works with - Medicare so you can decide whether to keep your current health plan or switch to a Medicare plan. Some things to think about:
- Part B - You can delay Part B enrollment if you have group health insurance. If you don't qualify to delay Part B enrollment, and you decide to enroll late anyway, you'll have to pay extra for your premium as long as you maintain Part B coverage.
- Part D - If you have prescription drug coverage through your company, find out whether it's creditable coverage. If you decide to buy Medicare Part D coverage later, you'll need proof that you've continually had creditable coverage for your prescription drugs.
Important Medicare dates every year
- October 1 - November 14
- Benefit and premium information is available from all plans, so you can shop and compare and be ready to enroll on November 15.
- November 15 - December 31
- Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare health benefits plan, such as a Medicare Advantage plan, Original Medicare, or a separate prescription drug plan.
- January 1 - March 31
- If you are not satisfied with the choice you made in November or December, you may still be able to switch plans.
- April 1 -November 14
- In general, you're not able to switch coverage. This time period is often referred to as the "lock-in" period.
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