Medicare & Enrollment Periods

Enrollment Periods with Medicare

Medicare is not automatic for everyone; signing up just because you are 65 is not always the best strategy. We will break down enrollment periods with Medicare and share tips along the way.

Initial Enrollment Period

Your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Medicare is a 7-month window when you can join Medicare. Traditionally IEP happens as you are approaching the age of 65. (Some individuals qualifier sooner due to disability or chronic illness.) During this time, you can join Medicare without providing proof of previous insurance. Providing proof is most common with Medicare Part D.

The 7-month window starts 3-months before your 65th birth month and extends to 3-months following. By enrolling in Medicare 3-months before turning 65, you can rest assured that your Medicare coverage will start the 1st day of your birth month. (Fun Fact! If you are born on the 1st of the month, Medicare will start the month prior.)

You can also apply for Medicare the month that you turn 65 and the three months following. By enrolling in this time frame, your Medicare benefits will be active the month following your application. Medicare coverage will always become effective the 1st of the month.

( for IEP)

Special Enrollment Period

Special Enrollment Periods  (SEP) are another time that you can enroll into Medicare and not be subject to late enrollment penalties. SEP is typically used when individuals are still working past the age of 65 or their spouse is currently working and providing health insurance for the household. Medicare will allow you to enroll with SEP anytime throughout the year, so when your coverage starts, it is based on when you start the enrollment process.

General Enrollment Period

General Enrollment Period (GEP) is from January 1st-March 31st. Typically individuals that apply for B of Medicare during this enrollment period, will have a higher cost in their Medicare B premium due to missing their IEP or SEP. (B of Medicare penalty for late enrollment is 10% for every 12 months that you went without coverage.) When applying for Medicare during this time, your coverage for Medicare part B will be effective starting the 1st of the following month of your enrollment. Speaking with our experts will help ensure that you are not increasing your premiums and applying for Medicare at the right time. Now once you are enrolled into Medicare, there are a few enrollment periods that allow you to change your private insurance plan option.

Annual Election Period

Annual Election Period (AEP) happens each fall from October 15th-December 7th. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their private insurance options and not be subject to health questions. (Some exclusions apply for Medigap policies.) Because insurance companies know that you can leave your current plan, you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of mail that you receive this time of year. Be sure to review your current plan information as well. The plan that you selected can change for the following year and those changes fit your needs. Working with Schatz Benefit Group, we are an independent broker that reviews our client’s insurance needs each fall.

Medicare Advantage Open Election Period

Medicare Advantage Open Election Period is from January 1st-March 31st. This enrollment period is only for individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and allows a one-time change in coverage. To learn more about this enrollment period, visit



Schatz Benefit Group is a team of Medicare experts with over 25 years of combined experience in the industry. Remember that Medicare is unique for everyone and having a team of experts on your side will ensure that you are taking Medicare at the time that is right for you!