When Is the Medicare General Enrollment Period?

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  • When is the Medicare general enrollment period and what is it, exactly? Learn the answers to these questions and more in our comprehensive guide today.

The Medicare General Enrollment Period allows eligible people to enroll in this healthcare program. To qualify for Medicare, you need to be a U.S. citizen aged 65 or older. Younger people with disabilities may also be able to enroll in this insurance program.

You'll generally want to enroll during your initial eligibility period, which begins 3 months before your 65th birthday. However, if you don't take advantage of this initial period, you can use the general enrollment period instead. 

When Is the Medicare General Enrollment Period?

The Medicare general enrollment period occurs between January 1st and March 31st of each year. However, coverage doesn't begin until July 1st, so you'll be without insurance until then unless you have other coverage. 

What Is the Difference Between Medicare Open Enrollment and Annual Enrollment?

There are several different enrollment periods each year, with the primary difference being who can use each one. Many people are confused about the difference between Medicare open enrollment and annual enrollment.

General enrollment runs between January 1st and March 31st of each year. It's generally meant for people who missed their initial enrollment period.

Annual enrollment runs between October 15th and December 7th of each year. If you missed both your initial and general enrollment options, you could use this time to enroll. However, the annual enrollment period also allows existing Medicare enrollees to make changes or add supplemental coverage to their current plans. 

Do You Automatically Get Medicare With Social Security?

Yes, you'll automatically be enrolled in Medicare if you're on Social Security. On the first day of your birthday month, in the year you turn 65, the Social Security Administration enrolls you in Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A is hospital insurance, which may cover some (or all) of your hospitalization costs. Medicare Part B is medical coverage, which may pay for doctor's visits and related expenses. 

Some people will automatically be enrolled in Medicare earlier than age 65. Anyone with a permanent or long-term disability will be automatically enrolled after being on disability for 2 years. While Part A is free for those who have earned the benefit, Part B comes with a monthly premium. You do have a choice on whether you'd like to receive Part B. If you do, you'll have to pay a monthly premium. If you don't, only hospital-related costs will be covered under Medicare. 

How Do I Enroll in Medicare for the First Time?

When you're eligible to enroll in Medicare, you can do so online at the Social Security website. You can apply for Original Medicare (Parts A and Part B) and choose any supplemental coverage options you want on the website. For example, there are supplemental options to help pay for prescriptions, vision, dental and hearing. You'll need to enter certain personally identifying information and answer a few medical questions to apply online

If you don't feel confident applying by yourself online, you can also call 1-800-772-1213 to speak with an enrollment representative or contact your local Social Security Administration office. 

If you already receive Social Security or disability before the age of 65, there's nothing you need to do to enroll in Medicare for the first time, with a few exceptions. If you want additional coverage, you should contact the Social Security Administration after becoming eligible for Medicare. It can help you determine how and when to apply for these supplemental policies.

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