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Medicare Initial Enrollment Period: Everything You Need to Know

by | May 4, 2023 | Medicare

Take advantage of your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period and sign up today!

If you’re 65 years or older, or have specific disabilities or medical conditions, you may qualify for Medicare. However, did you know that there’s a specific time frame within which you must enroll? It’s known as the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). It is to your advantage to know its details to avoid penalties and secure the coverage you require before this period ends. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the IEP to ensure you are more than prepared when your time comes. It is our privilege to help you every step of the way.

During your initial enrollment period, you can sign up for Medicare. This enrollment period starts three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birthday. To enroll, visit the official Medicare website or call the Social Security Administration.

What is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is the first opportunity you have to sign up for Medicare. A lot of people do not realize it’s a seven-month period that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends three months after the month of your 65th birthday. Many waste the first three months and begin the process during their birthday month or later. Waiting until the last minute can lead to delays and penalties. Sign up early and secure the peace of mind knowing all your ducks are in a row. This will create the smoothest Medicare transition experience for you. It is always better to sign up when you are first eligible.

Medicare Initial Enrollment Eligibility Requirements

You might be eligible for the IEP if you’re turning 65 and satisfy any of the following criteria:

  1. You’re not already enrolled in Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
  2. You’re enrolled in Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, but you haven’t yet enrolled in a Medicare Supplement and Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage plan.
  3. You have certain disabilities or medical conditions, regardless of your age.

Enrollment Options

It is extremely important to know you have several options for enrolling in Medicare. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. There is more than what Tom Selleck, Joe Nammath and all the other TV personalities are promoting. Below are all of your Medicare options.

Original Medicare

Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Original Medicare covers 80% of approved Medicare services. Beneficiaries will either obtain a Medicare Advantage plan with Prescription Drug coverage or a Medicare Supplement and stand alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) also known as Part D to fill in the gaps of what Original Medicare does not cover.

Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD)

Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) is an alternative to Original Medicare. It’s offered by private insurance companies and provides all the benefits of Parts A and B, as well as additional benefits like prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, and more such as fitness memberships and over the counter allowances. These plans are more limited in hospital and provider networks, but cost less than a Medicare Supplement and Drug Plan.

Medicare Supplement

Also known as Medigap plans. These plans are also offered by private insurance companies and have the most flexibility in terms of seeing any provider anywhere in the country who accepts Medicare. These plans help cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. A stand alone prescription drug plan (Part D) must be purchased in addition to a Medicare Supplement. If you purchase a Medicare Supplement, you cannot also be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)

If you enroll in Original Medicare, and purchase a Medicare Supplement, you will also need to sign up for Medicare prescription drug coverage (also known as Part D) during your IEP. You would not need a Part D plan if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug coverage in it.

Do not let anyone try to steer you one way or another. Choose the options that are best for you! Check out our resources at the bottom of this blog and take our Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare Supplements Quiz next. This quiz helps you understand which option will benefit you the most.

Do Not Miss Your IEP!

Missing your IEP can lead to late enrollment penalties if you do not have a special exception to miss it like having credible employer coverage. If you miss your IEP you’ll have to wait until the next General Enrollment Period (January 1 through March 31) to enroll, and your coverage won’t start until July 1 of that year. Late Enrollment Penalties last forever. Avoid them at all costs. There are Late Enrollment Penalties for Medicare Part B and Part D. Please check out our Resources section at the bottom for more information on Late Enrollment Penalties. This is very important.

How to Enroll during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

If you are not collecting Social Security, you can enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A & B) by:

  1. Applying online at the Social Security website www.ssa.gov
  2. Calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213
  3. Visiting your local Social Security office

If you are already collecting Social Security and have received your Medicare card with Part A and Part effective dates on it, schedule your Medicare Enrollment Assistance Appointment today with us.

In either scenario, do not wait to sign up. It can take up to 45 days to receive your Original Medicare card.


Signing up for Medicare should be a simple and stress-free process. That’s how make it for our clients. Medicare protects you with essential health services and limits your out of pocket expenses. Make sure to sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period. At the beginning preferably. You do not want to miss the opportunity to enroll. Start exploring your Medicare options now. Signing up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period can prevent late enrollment penalties and gaps in insurance coverage. Don’t risk facing late enrollment penalties, if you have any questions about the process or are ready to enroll, schedule your Medicare Enrollment Assistance appointment today.

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period – Resources

  1. Understanding Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period – Youtube Video
  2. Take Our Quiz – Which Medicare Option is Best for My Needs
  3. Medicare Basics
  4. Avoid Late Enrollment Penalties


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