What Is a Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)?

You can sign up for Medicare during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which begins three months before you turn 65.

You can sign up for Medicare during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birth month and continues for another three months.

Many people are automatically enrolled in Medicare once they qualify.

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Signing up for Medicare

In most cases, you have several ways to sign up for Original Medicare benefits.

If you’ve turned 65 and are already receiving Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration will notify you if you’ve been automatically enrolled in Original Medicare.

Part A and Part B

If you’re 65 years or older and are a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., you’re likely eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), assuming that you paid enough Medicare taxes (10 years worth) while working.

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) requires paying a premium, and you therefore have the option to decline coverage. However, if you decide later that you do want Medicare Part B, you may have to pay a penalty for as long as you have it.

You may also be eligible to sign up during a Special Enrollment Period if you are eligible.

If you don’t sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period and don’t qualify for special enrollment, you can sign up for either Medicare Part A or Part B during a General Enrollment Period, which runs each year from January 1 to March 31.

Keep in mind your coverage won’t begin until July 1 of that year, and you may be subject to late enrollment penalties if you wait too long.

Enrolling in Medicare prescription drug coverage

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans can cover many retail prescription drugs, which Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn't typically cover.

You can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan during your Initial Enrollment Period. If you don't sigh up for Medicare prescription drug coverage when you're first eligible, you could potentially pay a late enrollment fee if you decide to enroll in a plan later on.

You can compare Part D plans available where you live and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan online in as little as 10 minutes when you visit MyRxPlans.com.1

Enroll in Medicare Part D at MyRxPlans.com

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Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is an alternative to Original Medicare. It allows you to receive Medicare benefits from a private insurance company.

Many Medicare Advantage plans also provide additional benefits such as dental, vision and prescription drug coverage.

You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your IEP or during the fall Open Enrollment Period, which occurs October 15 to December 7 each year.

To learn more about Medicare Advantage, or to get a free quote, call to speak with a licensed insurance agent today.


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About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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