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medicare initial enrollment period

What is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)?

The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is for individuals who are new to Medicare, not for those already enrolled. 

If you’re already enrolled, you can read about the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period and the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period or check if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.  

When is the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is when you first become eligible for Original Medicare. This period lasts for seven months and includes the three months before the month you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday, and the three months after the month you turn 65. 

Knowing when to enroll in Medicare for the first time will help you avoid lifetime enrollment penalties. Review the Medicare Initial Enrollment Period chart below, or take our Medicare eligibility quiz to know when your enrollment period begins. 

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period Chart

 

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period Calculator

Not sure if you’re currently eligible for Medicare? We’ve created a Medicare eligibility quiz, so you know exactly when your unique Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is. 

Medicare eligibility quiz

What Does Enrolling in Medicare Mean?

To sign up for Medicare, you must first be eligible. You must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. You’re 65 or older.
  2. You’re younger than 65 with eligible disabilities by the Social Security Administration.
  3. You have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

When enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you sign up for Original Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice care, and home health care. 

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps cover medically-necessary services like doctor’s visits, outpatient care, preventative services, Durable Medicare Equipment (DME), and some home health care. 

You can continue learning about Original Medicare by reading these articles:

Most everyone will sign up for Original Medicare Parts A & B and then expand their coverage to include Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, Medicare Supplement (Medigap), or a Medicare Advantage plan.

The coverage you need is unique to you, and a local licensed agent can help you sort through your options. Call to speak to a local licensed agent at (623) 223-8884.

Find the right Medicare plan for you

Are you Automatically Enrolled in Original Medicare?

If you are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Otherwise, you will need to sign up for Part A and Part B during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period. 

When you’re automatically enrolled in Original Medicare

  • When you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B starting the first day of the month you turn 65. 
  • If you are younger than 65 with an eligible disability by the Social Security Administration, the Initial Enrollment Period does not apply to you. You will automatically receive Medicare Parts A & B after receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration for 24 months.
  • Have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or End-Stage Renal Disease? You’ll automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B the month your disability benefits begin. 
Agent tip:

“You may not need to enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B, when you turn 65, but you should consult with a local licensed advisor to ensure you don’t miss your Initial Enrollment Period. If you were required to sign up for Medicare and miss your window, you may face lifetime enrollment penalties. This includes Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.“

Do I Have to Enroll in Medicare at 65?

You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, but that doesn’t mean you have to sign up. You may not need to do anything if you already have health insurance through an employer. However, there are certain circumstances when you might want to enroll in Medicare even if you have other health insurance. 

For example, suppose your employer only offers health insurance to full-time employees. In that case, you may want to enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. You can do this without giving up your employer’s health insurance. 

If you decide not to enroll in Medicare when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you later decide you want coverage. 

If a plan covers you through current or past employment by a private company with 20 or more employees, talk with a benefits administrator before signing up for Medicare. You might be able to delay signing up for Part B without having to pay a late enrollment penalty. 

Enrolling in Medicare is essential to your health and budget, so do your research before making a decision. We can help you decide if now is the right time to enroll in Medicare. Call to speak to a local licensed agent at (623) 223-8884.

When Does Medicare Coverage Start?

Curious when your coverage will start once you sign up for Medicare? That depends on which month you enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period. However, coverage always begins on the first of the month.

Qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A? Your Part A coverage starts the month you turn 65. And if your birthday is on the first of the month, you’re lucky because your Medicare coverage will begin the month before you turn 65.

If you don’t qualify for premium-free Part A, your coverage depends on the month you sign up. This applies to Medicare Part B as well. 

When did you sign up? When will Medicare coverage begin?
Before the month you turn 65 The month you turn 65
The month you turn 65 The following month
1 month after you turn 65 In 2022: 2 months after you sign up. Beginning January 1, 2023: the next month.
2 or 3 months after you turn 65 In 2022: 3 months after you sign up. Beginning January 1, 2023: the following month.

What Happens if I Miss My Initial Enrollment Period?

The deadline to enroll in Medicare is during your Initial Enrollment Period. If you do not enroll during this time, you may have to wait until the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which only occurs once per year from October 15 through December 7. Or you can sign up annually during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period from January 1 through March 15. In addition, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you did not sign up for Part B when you were first eligible. 

Ensure that you don’t miss your Initial Enrollment Period. If you’re 65 – or close to turning 65 – reach out to a Connie Health local licensed agent. We can help you navigate your Medicare journey right from the start. Avoid costly beginner’s mistakes by calling (623) 223-8884.

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Read more by David Luna

I am a Spanish-speaking Arizona Life and Health Insurance Licensed Agent and have been helping people with Medicare since 2005. I am a Marine Corps Veteran & former police officer. I enjoy watching football and basketball but hold family time in the highest regard.

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