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Medicare: When to Enroll

Medicare enrollment timelines

There are set times during the year when you can enroll in or change your Medicare plan. Your enrollment timeline can change depending on whether you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time or changing your coverage.

New to Medicare?

You have an Initial Enrollment Period. You have seven months to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B. This time frame includes:

  • Three months before the month of your 65th birthday
  • The month of your 65th birthday
  • Three months after the month of your 65th birthday
Your IEP begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your 65th birthday.

Understanding the right time to enroll is important. Not doing so could result in delay of coverage, and you could face penalties later on. Here’s how you can prepare for your Initial Enrollment Period.

New to Medicare Enrollment Timeline

6 months before birthday

Start doing research on Medicare Advantage plans. Research which companies offer Medicare coverage in your area. Decide what type of plan will best meet your health care needs.

5 months before birthday

Attend an informational seminar about Medicare. You'll learn about what Original Medicare covers, types of Medicare Advantage plans, and why Medicare Part D is important.

3 months before birthday

Sign up for Original Medicare. Enroll in Original Medicare Parts A and B.

Sign up for Medicare Advantage coverage. Make sure you apply for enrollment three months before your birthday. This ensures you don't have a gap in health care coverage.

3 months after birthday

This month is the last month you can enroll in Original Medicare.

Have questions about your Initial Enrollment Period?

Our licensed UPMC for Life Medicare Advisors can answer your questions and help you choose the Medicare plan that's right for you. Our team is here to give you the personal support you deserve. Call us toll-free at 1-844-575-8241 (TTY:711).

How to sign up for Original Medicare

Contact the Social Security Administration to sign up for Original Medicare. Call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.

Already on Medicare?

You can change your Medicare Advantage coverage only during certain times of the year.

Medicare Advantage enrollment timeline

Annual Election Period:
Oct. 15 – Dec. 7

You can add or drop Part D prescription drug coverage, change to a Medicare Advantage plan, or change to Original Medicare. Your coverage will be effective January 1.

Open Enrollment Period:
Jan. 1 – Mar. 31

If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make ONE change to your coverage. You can add or drop Part D prescription drug coverage, or change to a Medicare Advantage plan or to Original Medicare. Your coverage will be effective the first of the next month.

Lock-in Period:
Apr. 1 – Oct. 14
Dec. 8 – Dec. 31

You cannot make a plan change after March 31 unless you qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP) or have Medical Assistance coverage.

Next Steps

Medicare Eligibility

Turning 65 or retiring soon? It’s time to start thinking about your Medicare enrollment timeline!

The Four Parts of Medicare

The four parts of Medicare cover various services. Learn about each of the four parts of Medicare.

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A covers inpatient and hospital coverage. Learn more about Part A.

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Call 1-866-400-5077 (TTY: 711) for more information. Out-of-network/noncontracted providers are under no obligation to treat UPMC for Life members, except in emergency situations. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost sharing that applies to out-of-network services. Other physicians/providers are available in the UPMC for Life network.

This information is available for free in other languages. Please call our customer service number at 1-877-539-3080 (TTY: 711).

UPMC for Life has a contract with Medicare to provide HMO, HMO SNP, and PPO plans. The HMO SNP plans have a contract with the PA State Medical Assistance program. Enrollment in UPMC for Life depends on contract renewal.

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UPMC for Life Members
Call us toll-free: 1-877-539-3080
TTY: 711

Oct. 1 through March 31:
seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

April 1 through Sept. 30:
Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

UPMC for Life Prospective Members
Call us toll-free: 1-866-400-5077
TTY: 711

Extended hours offered Oct. 15 through Dec. 7: seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Oct. 1 through Dec. 31:
seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jan. 1 through Sept. 30:
Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Last Updated: 10/01/2020
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