Signing up for Medicare

Turning 65 soon? You’ve probably gotten a lot of information about Medicare. That information includes important dates and deadlines. They're important because if you miss certain deadlines, you may end up paying more for your health coverage.

The chart below will help you understand the basics of when you should sign up for Medicare Part A and B. That’s the insurance you get from the government. If you want more than Original Medicare, we show you when you can sign up for Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans, Part D prescription drug plans—if you need one—and supplement insurance plans.

If you currently get your health coverage through an employer, your Medicare options could be different. It’s a good idea to talk to your employer about what will happen when you turn 65. Learn more about your Medicare options.

Medicare isn’t just for people 65 and older.

People with certain disabilities can get Medicare before they turn 65. Find out who's eligible and when.

The basics of signing up for Medicare Part A and B overview
What it's called What it means What you can do When you can do it
Initial enrollment

You can sign up for Medicare for the first time during your initial enrollment.

Want to sign up for a supplement plan? Look in the table below under special enrollment.

Enroll in Original Medicare Part A and B

Then you can enroll in Part C or D.

You have a 7-month time frame:

  • The 3 months before your birthday month
  • The month of your birthday
  • The 3 months after your birthday month
Annual enrollment It's an opportunity to enroll in or change Part C and D plans each year. Enroll in Part C or D—if you didn't during your initial enrollment—or change your Part C or D plan. Oct. 15 – Dec. 7
General enrollment Use this enrollment to get Original Medicare Part A and B if you missed your initial enrollment. Enroll in Part A or B. You could end up paying more for your coverage. Jan. 1 – March 31

Special enrollment

To qualify for this kind of enrollment, you have to meet certain conditions. There are a lot of different rules for all the different plans. So be sure to do some research if you think any of these may apply to you.

Special enrollment conditions for Medicare Part A and B overview
What plans What it means What you can do When you can do it
Original Medicare
Part A and B
This special enrollment is for people 65 and over who are currently working and get health insurance from their employer.

You can enroll in Part A and B if:

  • You missed initial enrollment.
  • You lose coverage from your employer. You get 8 months to enroll without penalty.
Any time during the year.
Part C or D This is for people who meet certain conditions, like if you move out of your plan's service area or lose a Part C plan you had through an employer. If you qualify, you can enroll in a Part C or D plan. Any time during the year.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Sometimes you leave a plan because of changes in your life, or changes by your insurance company. In these cases, you may qualify for special enrollment. Other times, you may decide a Medicare Advantage plan you bought isn't for you. Then you can use the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period.

Medicare Advantage open enrollment period conditions overview
What plans What it means What you can do When you can do it
Part C and D Did you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that you no longer want? You can only leave the plan during a certain time.

Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to just Original Medicare or change to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

If you change plans, you can add a Part D plan during the same time.

Jan. 1 - March 31