Blue Cross Blue Shield Open Enrollment Periods

In this article...
  • Don't miss your Medicare open enrollment periods, which may be your best chance to sign up for a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plan. Learn when and how you can compare your local plan options to find the best Medicare plan for your needs.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is part of the Anthem and Blue Cross family of brands, which provides private Medicare insurance plans including Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

There are many BCBS plans sold all over the U.S. to millions of people, but you can only sign up for Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plans during certain Medicare enrollment periods throughout the year. If you miss your BCBS Medicare enrollment period, you may have to wait another year before you can consider enrolling in plan with better benefits or lower costs, if one is available where you live.

It's important to learn about how and when you can sign up for Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare coverage, including during open enrollment.

If you’re ready to compare Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plans where you live or find other plans in the Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield family of brands, you can find your local plan options online or call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you determine the right enrollment period for you and walk you through the enrollment process if you’re eligible.

When Are the Blue Cross Blue Shield Open Enrollment Periods?

There are several different enrollment periods for Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plans. These enrollment periods are dictated not by Blue Cross Blue Shield but by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the federal Medicare program. 

Initial Enrollment Period

Your Initial Enrollment Period is your first chance to enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B), a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, from Blue Cross Blue Shield or from any other private Medicare insurance company.

Your Initial Enrollment Period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month of your birthday and ends three months after, for a total of seven consecutive months.

If you aren’t automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, you may have to manually enroll. To manually sign up for Medicare, you can:

  • Apply online at SSA.gov, the official website of the Social Security Administration
  • Call the official toll-free number of Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) TTY number: 1-877-486-2048
  • Make an appointment to speak with a Social Security representative who can help answer your Medicare questions and help you sign up for Medicare at your local Social Security office

You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B before you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, including those offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Annual Enrollment Period 

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) – also referred to as the fall Medicare open enrollment period – lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year.

During the fall open enrollment period, you may be able to enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan, switch from one plan to another or drop a plan and switch back to Original Medicare. 

This is a great time of year – and for many beneficiaries, the only time – to compare your current Medicare plan to other plans available where you live. You may be able to find a plan from BCBS or another insurance company that offers more benefits, better network coverage or lower costs than your current plan.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year.

During this open enrollment period, current Medicare Advantage plan members can switch from one plan to another or drop their current Medicare Advantage plan and revert back to Original Medicare. You may then be able to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan to go along with your Original Medicare benefits.

Special Enrollment Period

Special Enrollment Periods are not associated with a specific date range and may happen at any time of the year, depending on your unique circumstances. See below for more information about Special Enrollment Periods and how to qualify. 

Who Qualifies for a Blue Cross Blue Shield Special Enrollment Period?

Special Enrollment Periods for Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans are granted at the discretion of the CMS and not by Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

Special Enrollment Periods are given to beneficiaries who experience a qualifying life event. Medicare.gov, the official website of Medicare, provides a list of qualifying life events.

Qualifying life events that may qualify you for a Medicare Special Enrollment Period generally include things like:

  • Moving to a new area where your current plan isn’t offered
  • Losing employer coverage after leaving a job
  • Being enrolled in a plan that does not renew its coverage with Medicare
  • Losing your health insurance coverage through no fault of your own

When Is Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Open Enrollment for People Under Age 65?

Medicare is most associated with people aged 65 and over, but you may still qualify for Medicare – and thus a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plan – before age 65 if you have a qualifying disability. 

Once you have received disability income from either the Social Security Administration or the Railroad Retirement Board for 24 months, you typically become eligible to enroll in Medicare.

Once you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you may be able to join a Part D plan or a special type of Medicare Advantage plan called a Special Needs Plan, which is specifically designed for beneficiaries who have certain disabilities or health conditions.  

Who Is Eligible for Blue Cross Blue Shield Enrollment Periods?

In order to join a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plan, you must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and live in the area in which the Medicare Advantage plan is sold. 

To purchase a Blue Cross Blue Shield Part D plan, you must be enrolled in at least Part A and live in the area serviced by the plan. 

How Can I Enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Plan?

For more information about Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare plans available near you or to enroll in coverage, call to speak with a licensed insurance agent or compare plans online by visiting anthem www.anthembcbs-medicareadvantage.com.

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