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Medicare Enrollment

There are 4 main different Medicare enrollment periods—initial, general, annual, and special. You may also be automatically enrolled.

How to Enroll in Medicare for 2024 Video Transcript >

Hi, I'm Jessica Manion with my Healthcare Direct, and today I'm going to guide you through the essential steps on how to enroll in Medicare. Whether you're turning 65 or you're eligible due to certain circumstances, understanding the enrollment process is crucial for accessing your healthcare benefits that you deserve. So, let's dive in.

Before we get started, make sure you hit the Subscribe button and ring the notification bell so that you'll never miss out on our valuable healthcare tips and advice. Before we get into discussing how to enroll in Medicare, let's go over some of the basics. Medicare is a national health insurance program primarily designed for individuals who are ages 65 and older. Now, there are a few exceptions for those under 65 who are eligible for Medicare, such as those being on disability or those with terminal illnesses such as End-Stage Renal Disease.

Medicare is made up of two main parts: Part A, which is your hospitalization coverage, and Part B, which is your medical coverage. For those of you who are currently taking Social Security before turning 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Parts A and B. Therefore, you should receive your red, white, and blue Medicare card up to 3 months before the month you turn 65. Your effective dates for Part A and Part B will be the first of the month that you turn 65 if you are enrolled previously.

For those of you on Social Security and are auto-enrolled in Medicare, your effective dates for Part A and Part B will be the first of the month of your birthday. Now, your effective dates will be the first of the month that you turn 65. However, those of you who are born on the 1st of the month, your effective date will actually be the month before. So, for example, if you were born on April 1st, your effective date for Medicare would be March 1st.

If you are not drawing from Social Security benefits up to 4 months before turning 65, then you will have to self-enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period. This period begins up to 3 months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and up to three months after you turn 65, for a total of a 7-month period. If you are able to enroll before your birth month, your effective dates for Part A and Part B should be the first of the month you were born. If you enroll in Medicare after your birth month, your Part B coverage can be delayed and depending upon how soon after your birthday you enroll, your Medicare coverage could be delayed.

There are three main ways to enroll in Medicare. The first is by going into your local Social Security office and enrolling in person. The second is by calling Social Security and enrolling over the telephone. But if you've ever tried calling Social Security, especially on the national number, you know depending on the time of day, it could be very difficult to get someone on the phone. So, the most popular and probably easiest option is by enrolling online. I'm going to walk you through the process on how to get started.

The first thing you're going to do to enroll in Medicare is you're going to go to the website That should take you to this home screen where you're going to look for the section that says "Apply". The second link down should say "Sign up for Medicare", and that's what you're going to want to select.

From here, it's going to take you to the page where you're going to begin the process. So, if you are someone who is turning 65 and you need to enroll in Part A and Part B, you're going to want to click the "Apply Online" button under "Sign up for Medicare".

If you are someone who is already older than 65 and you're enrolled in Part A but you delayed Your Part B and you need to enroll for just Part B, you're going to select the "Get Started" button under the "Sign up for Part B only" section.

But for the sake of this example, we're going to say we're turning 65 and need to enroll in both parts A and B, so we're going to select "Apply Online".

From here, it's going to take you to the terms and service page. Feel free to read this over, and then once you're done reading it over, you're going to want to select the box that says "I understand and agree to the above statements" and select "Next".

From here, you're going to scroll down to the "Apply and Complete" section. If you have already started this application process and you have not completed it, you can return to your saved application or you can start a new application if you have not begun yet. So for this example, we're going to say we have not started an application, so we're going to click "Start a New Application".

Now it's going to ask us a few questions. The first one is you're going to want to say that you are applying for yourself. Then it's going to prompt you to see if you have a "My Social Security" account. Now if you do not currently have an account, you're going to want to select "No", and then it's going to prompt you for one more question asking if you have an address in the United States, which you will select "Yes". If you do have a "My Social Security" account, you'll want to select "Yes" and that other question goes away, and you'll hit "Next". So, let's say for this example that you don't have a Social Security account but you do have an address in the U.S., so you'll hit "Next".

Both options are going to take you right to this page. Now, if you have created an account before and you created it before September 18th, 2021, you're going to sign in using your Social Security username. Otherwise, you're going to log in using one of these two options. If you have not created a Social Security account, you still would use one of these links to create an account.

Now, if I had an account, I would go ahead and type in my email address and password and sign in, or you can create an account by typing in the email address you would like to use, selecting your language preference, and selecting the little box that says "I read and accept the rules of use" and hit "Submit".

Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation from Social Security that they have received the application. Once it has been processed, they will send you a letter in the mail, followed by your red, white, and blue card soon after.

If you have any more questions on the Medicare enrollment process, what options you have once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, please feel free to give our office a call at 888-959-1028 or you can reach us by email at

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

The IEP begins 3 months before your 65th birthday then ends 3 months later. So, the exact timing of this period is relative to you specifically, so be sure to keep a close eye on your calendar as the time comes nearer.

During the IEP, you can enroll in any Medicare plan you are eligible for, including Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), Medicare Advantage (Part C), Part D, and/or supplements. Keep in mind, however, that the IEP for supplements takes place during the 6 months following your 65th birthday rather than the typical period. You do not have to worry about late penalties if you enroll during your IEP.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

The AEP, on the other hand, takes place from October 15th to December 7th and allows you to add or make changes to your Medicare coverage. Unlike the IEP, however, you cannot enroll in Original Medicare during this time. Keep in mind, however, that you must be enrolled/eligible for Original Medicare before you can make any of these changes:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (and vice versa)
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan/provider to another
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan/provider without prescription drug coverage to an Advantage plan with Prescription Drug(and vice versa)
  • Switch from one Prescription Drug plan/provider to another

General Enrollment Period (GEP)

If you did miss your IEP and still need to enroll in Original Medicare, you can do so during the GEP. This period takes place annually from January 1st to March 31st. You can also enroll in additional coverage you are eligible for, but keep in mind that you are limited to one change—so, if you are enrolling in Original Medicare for the first time, you cannot add any other coverage till another opportunity becomes available.

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

The SEP, unlike the other periods, can take place at any time during the year. You also must be eligible for it in order to use it. Also, you do not have to worry about any late fees with the SEP—besides the IEP, you may incur late fees if you choose to wait till after your IEP ends to enroll.

Automatic Enrollment

As far as Original Medicare is concerned, you will more than likely be automatically enrolled for coverage. You will, however, have to manually find and apply for any additional coverage options. But, for Parts A and B, you should receive a letter informing you of your enrollment during your IEP if you have worked at least 10 years paying Social Security taxes.

You can reject this, however, if you choose to delay your coverage for any reason. Simply follow the instructions on the back of said letter, and/or call the Social Security office.

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Your Medicare enrollment may be a difficult journey, but a worthwhile one. With the right team behind you, you’ll receive excellent guidance and, at the end of it, an affordable and comprehensive insurance plan. Call My Healthcare Direct today at (888) 959-1028.

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