It can be confusing to get the timing of Medicare enrollment right to avoid coverage gaps and late fees. In 2023, some changes have been made to enrollment periods that eliminate some potential coverage gaps and provide more flexibility for special enrollment for people in certain situations.
Regular Enrollment Periods
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) refers to the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday and the three months after it, for a total of seven months. Prior to 2023, if you enrolled during the last three months of your IEP you might have to wait another three months for your coverage to actually start. This year, that changes. If you enroll before your 65th birthday, coverage starts on the first day of the month of your birthday. If you enroll during the latter three months, coverage will start on the first day of the next month.
Changes have also been made to the General Enrollment Period (GEP) to eliminate coverage gaps. Though the GEP runs only from January 1st to March 31st, enrollees previously had to wait until July 1st for their coverage to begin. Now, coverage is active on the first day of the month after enrollment.
New Special Enrollment Periods
Four new special enrollment periods have been added for people in specific life circumstances that may have impacted their ability to enroll in Medicare during their IEP or the GEP. A fifth special enrollment period exists for people who “experience other exceptional circumstances.”
The four specific new special enrollment periods cover people who:
- Live in an area where the federal, state or local government has declared an emergency or disaster.
- Receive misinformation about Medicare from an employer and subsequently make an enrollment error.
- Have been released from incarceration since January 1, 2023
- Lose Medicaid coverage on or after January 1, 2023
Before these new categories were created, people may have fallen into a coverage gap or incurred late fees because of a circumstance they had little control over. Please share this information with anyone you think may fall into one of these categories. If you have been impacted by one of the circumstances described above, you can learn more about how they impact enrollment options here.
Questions About Medicare Enrollment? Call Us.
We’re always here to help you understand Medicare, the enrollment periods and the many different available plans. To chat with our knowledgeable team, please give us a call at (207) 647-2900 or 1-(866) 866-4340.