Whether you’re new to Medicare or have been on it for years, there are some important dates to be aware of. You can use one of the following enrollment periods depending on your needs and eligibility.

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

Use this seven-month window to enroll in Medicare for the first time.

Initial Enrollment Period Initial Enrollment Period
  • Enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
  • Join a Medicare Advantage plan (requires enrollment in Parts A and B).
  • Enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).
Initial Enrollment Period

Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Join a Medicare Advantage plan outside of standard enrollment windows—if you qualify.

Special Enrollment Period Special Enrollment Period
You might qualify for an SEP if you:
  • Moved out of your plan’s service area
  • Recently lost Medicaid eligibility
  • Lost your current coverage
  • Joined or didn’t join a plan because of false information from a federal employee

Special enrollment opportunities aren’t limited to what’s shown above.

For questions about your unique situation and if you might qualify, call an Essence licensed advisor at the number listed at the bottom of this page.

5-Star Special Enrollment Period

Take this opportunity to experience the exceptional service and benefits of a 5-star Medicare plan.

Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on things like customer service, member experience and benefits. Plans are rated using a 5-star scale, with 1 being “poor” and 5 being “excellent.” If there’s a plan with a 5-star overall rating in your area, you may be able to switch outside of standard enrollment windows.

  • Join a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage), a Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare cost plan.
  • You may only use this SEP once from December 8 to November 30.
  • You don’t qualify to switch plans if you’re already in a 5-star plan.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

Switch, drop or join a different Medicare plan once during this yearly enrollment window.

Annual Enrollment Period Annual Enrollment Period
  • Switch, drop or join a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Switch to a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare or vice versa.
  • Add or drop Part D prescription drug coverage.
Annual Enrollment Period Annual Enrollment Period

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)

Make a one-time election to change your Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage.
  • Go back to Original Medicare.
  • Add or drop Part D prescription drug coverage.

Please note that the MA OEP is only available if you’re already in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Also taking place during this time is the General Enrollment Period for Original Medicare. During this time, you can enroll in Parts A and B if you didn’t when you were first eligible.

Want to learn more about your options?

Request FREE Information

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