If you are newly eligible for Medicare because you turned 65, you can sign up during your initial enrollment period. This period starts three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months after the month you turn 65.
If you have Medicare Part A coverage and you get Part B for the first time by enrolling during the Part B general enrollment period (January 1 to March 31), you will have an enrollment period between April 1 and June 30.
If you are eligible for Medicare and have not enrolled in Part D, you will be able to enroll during the open enrollment period. The open enrollment period for Part D is from October 15 to December 7 every year. You can also change plans during the open enrollment period.
Some people can enroll in a Part D plan at other times in the year because they have “special enrollment periods.” For example, if you move outside your plan’s service area, or if you have “Extra Help,” or if you lose your creditable coverage, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Call SHIP at 1-800-642-5119 or the Health Care Advocate HelpLine at 1-800-917-7787 to find out if you can enroll outside of the open enrollment period.
Your Part D coverage should start the first day of the month after you enroll.
How do I enroll?
You can enroll over the phone, online or by mail. You enroll directly with the insurance company that sells the Part D plan that you want. You should have your Medicare card to enroll. If you need help deciding which Part D plan to buy, call SHIP’s (the State Health Insurance Assistance Program) Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119.
What happens if I don’t enroll?
For each month you delay enrolling in Medicare Part D after you become eligible, you will have to pay a 1% Part D late enrollment penalty unless:
- You have creditable drug coverage. Creditable drug coverage means coverage that is expected to pay on average as much as the standard Part D plan.
- You qualify for Extra Help, also called Low Income Subsidy.
You will probably have to pay this penalty every month you pay your Part D premium for as long as you have Medicare.
When can I change my Part D plan?
You can change plans during the Part D open enrollment period. The open enrollment period is from October 15 to December 7 every year. You should review your Part D plan options every year because premiums, coinsurance and formularies (lists of covered drugs) can change.