Reminder about Medicare Enrollment Periods

People on Medicare should be aware of two current enrollment periods that end on March 31st:

1. General Enrollment Period for Medicare Parts A and B

Individuals who did not sign up for Medicare Parts A and B when they were first eligible can enroll during the General Enrollment Period (GEP), which runs from January 1st through March 31st each year.  Coverage takes effect the first of the month after enrollment. .  Further information about how to enroll in Medicare can be found on SSA’s website

2. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period runs from January 1st through March 31st.  This enrollment period allows people who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan on January 1st to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage) or disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.  Anyone who chooses to return to Original Medicare during this enrollment period will be able to join a stand-alone prescription drug plan for Part D coverage.  Only one change may be made during this period. 

Any change made during this enrollment period takes effect the first day of the next month. For example, if someone disenrolls from their Medicare Advantage plan and enrolls in a prescription drug plan on March 16th, they will have Original Medicare and their chosen prescription drug plan coverage starting on April 1st.  This enrollment period is especially helpful for Medicare beneficiaries who find that their current Medicare Advantage plan is not meeting their needs.  This enrollment period cannot be used by someone in Original Medicare seeking to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Other Opportunities to Change Medicare Health & Drug Plans During the Year: 


Special Enrollment Period for Dual Eligibles and People with Extra Help

Dual eligibles (those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) and other individuals who are eligible for Extra Help with their Part D costs can change their Medicare health or drug plan once per quarter during each of the first three quarters in a calendar year. Changes made during the first three quarters of the year will start the first of the next month.  After September 30th, duals and those eligible for Extra Help can use the yearly Open Enrollment Period (October 15th – December 7th) to make changes and with the new plan starting January 1st.

Other Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs)

There are a number of other SEPs that exist for various circumstances that people can use to make coverage changes during the year.  Common ones include when people move, when people lose Medicaid coverage, or when people lose other prescription coverage and need to enroll in Part D. 

For more information about Medicare enrollment periods and other SEPs that may be available, see Medicare’s publication on this topic here.  We encourage readers who have questions about Medicare plan choices or who need help enrolling or changing plans to call PA MEDI at 1-800-783-7067.