You must wait for a suitable Medicare Advantage enrollment period to enroll in a Part C plan. An election period is the narrow window of opportunity you have a chance to enroll in or change your Medicare Advantage plan.
There are three windows of opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
Your Initial Coverage Election Period happens when you first become eligible for Original Medicare. It starts three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after that. This election period can also happen after receiving Social Security benefits for 24 months minimum.
The window of opportunity is the same seven months, but instead of revolving around your birth month, the month of your official eligibility is in the center.
Once you've enrolled in Medicare, you may make changes to your plan selections during the Annual Election Period.. For all qualifying beneficiaries, the AEP starts October 15 and lasts through December 7. Your benefits will kick in on January 1 of the following year.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may make one change during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which occurs each year between January 1 and March 31.
During this window, you can switch to Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
Unless you qualify for a Special Election Period, you can’t enroll in Medicare Advantage outside one of the three above enrollment windows. There are certain qualifying life events that you must experience to get approved for this SEP. Some of those include (but are certainly not limited to):
Learn more about Medicare Advantage plans here and Part D plans here.
If you are not sure about your enrollment eligibility, please submit your zip code to begin comparing Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Part D Prescription Drug options.