Qualifying for Medicare Enrollment Outside of Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): General Enrollment and Open Enrollment Periods

Learn about the two Medicare enrollment periods that run from January through March.

Key Takeaways

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GEP and MAOEP are two additional lesser-known enrollment periods running Jan 1 - Mar 31

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GEP (General Enrollment Period) allows enrollment for those who missed their Initial Enrollment Period during their 65th year

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The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP) allows Medicare Advantage plan holders to make changes during January, February, and March each year

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Medicare Enrollment Periods

As you approach 65, it’s important to know about the various enrollment periods when you can sign up for Medicare coverage through the government and private insurers. The two primary enrollment periods for Medicare are the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins three months before you are first eligible for Medicare. For those qualifying for Medicare by age, this means IEP begins three months before you turn 65, includes the month in which you turn 65, and continues for three months after. When you sign up during IEP, coverage begins the month after signup.

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) occurs from October 15 through December 7 every year. During AEP, people already enrolled in Medicare can do the following:

  • Join a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan 
  • Switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Add or drop prescription drug coverage
  • Switch from Original Medicare (government-provided) to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare (government-provided)

Beyond those two commonly used enrollment periods, there is an additional window from January 1 through March 31 where you can sign up for Medicare or make changes to a plan. This window covers the General Enrollment Period (for those who missed their Initial Enrollment Period in their age 65 year) and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period for those who already have a Medicare Advantage plan.

What is the Medicare General Enrollment Period? Find out if you’re eligible.

The Medicare General Enrollment Period, lasting from January 1 through March 31 every year, is an enrollment period for those who missed their Initial Enrollment Period upon turning 65. If you have been eligible for Medicare for over a year and have not signed up yet, you may pay a late enrollment penalty of an extra 10% for each year you could have signed up for Medicare Part B but did not.

The General Enrollment Period is your first chance to apply for Medicare coverage if you missed your Initial Enrollment Period.

Enrolling in Medicare During the General Enrollment Period

You can use the Medicare General Enrollment Period to enroll at any time during January, February, and March. No matter when you enroll during those three months, your Medicare coverage will begin on July 1 of that year. 

There are two ways to enroll during the General Enrollment Period:

If you have any questions on how to get started, give our helpful agents a call at 1-855-200-9406 for assistance.

What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period? Find out if you’re eligible.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP) is concurrent with the General Enrollment Period, lasting from January 1 through March 31. This period allows Medicare Advantage Plan holders who enrolled during AEP to review their plan and make sure it fits their needs. Think of it as an extra chance to make sure the plan works with the plan holder’s chosen doctors, prescription coverage, and budget—if not, they can make one change to their coverage. It is important to note that this is not when you should enroll for Medicare Advantage for the first time; this is only to change existing coverage.

What options do you have during MAOEP?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is your one-time-per-year opportunity to make a change to your existing Medicare Advantage Plan. 

Here are some things you can do during MAOEP:

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
  • Cancel Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare
  • Add prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D)

During MAOEP, you cannot:

  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan for the first time
  • Enroll in Original Medicare for the first time
  • Enroll in a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plan without underwriting health question.

Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods

We understand the terminology around the various Medicare Enrollment Periods can be confusing. If you still have questions about the various Enrollment Periods or qualify for General Enrollment after delaying Medicare signup during your Initial Enrollment Period, please give us a call at 1-000-000-0000. Our expert US-based and US-licensed agents will be happy to help.


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