There are 3 enrollment periods for Medicare. The beginning of Medicare coverage depends upon which period the person eligible for Medicare chooses to enroll in the plan.
Initial Enrollment Period
The initial enrollment period for Medicare is during the 3 months before, and the three months after, the potential Medicare beneficiary’s 65th birthday. The beginning date of the recipient’s Medicare coverage is determined by when, in this 7-month time frame, the eligible recipient enrolls in Medicare.
If enrollment occurs within the 3 months prior to the Medicare recipient’s 65th birthday, Medicare coverage begins the month of eligibility, or the month the Medicare beneficiary turns age 65. Enrollment in Medicare during the same month that the recipient reaches the age of 65 will mean that Medicare coverage will begin the next month. However, if the Medicare beneficiary does not enroll until the last 3 months of the initial enrollment period, Medicare coverage can take as long as 3 months after enrollment to begin.
General Enrollment Period
The general enrollment period for Medicare begins on January 1st and ends on March 31st each year. The General Enrollment Period is for those who did not sign up for Medicare during their initial enrollment eligibility. If the Medicare beneficiary signs up during the General Enrollment Period, Medicare coverage begins July 1st of the year of enrollment.
Special Enrollment Period
If the Medicare recipient is covered by a group health insurance at the time of Medicare eligibility, enrollment in Medicare can be delayed for up to 8 months after that insurance stops. Enrollment can occur at anytime before or during this 8-month period. Medicare coverage will begin in the month after enrollment.