There are three main times when you can switch or join a Medicare Part D plan.
Initial Enrollment Period
When you're turning 65
Annual Enrollment Period
Each year from October 15 through December 7
Special Enrollment Period
Under special circumstances for a specific time period
If one of these Medicare enrollment periods applies to you, and you're looking for 2019 coverage, start by comparing plans based on where you live, the drugs you take and the pharmacies you use.
When you're turning 65, you have 7 months to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan:
Your coverage start date will depend on when you join a Medicare Part D plan.
For example, suppose your 65th birthday is May 10. That means you can enroll from February 1 to August 31.
|If you join a Medicare Part D plan:||Coverage will start:|
|February 1 to April 30||May 1|
|May 1 to May 31||June 1|
|June 1 to June 30||July 1|
|July 1 to July 31||August 1|
|August 1 to August 31||September 1|
If you have a disability
If you are eligible for Medicare due to a disability, you can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan anytime during the 7-month period below:
You can also enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period if you're turning 65.
Important: Enroll in a plan that provides prescription drug coverage during your Initial Enrollment Period to avoid paying a late enrollment penalty. If you receive Medicaid, you may be able to enroll at other times of the year without a penalty.
The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D, known as Open Enrollment, is October 15 through December 7 each year. This is your opportunity to join or switch a Medicare Part D plan. Outside this time period, you can make other changes during the year only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
A Special Enrollment Period is a set period of time outside the Initial and Annual Enrollment periods when a person with special circumstances may join or switch a plan. In most cases, you have up to 2 months after the month your current coverage ends to join a plan.
Here are a few ways you could qualify for a Special Enrollment Period:
If you qualify, your coverage start date will be the first day of the month following the month that the plan receives your completed enrollment request. For example, if we receive your enrollment request on June 7, your coverage will begin July 1.
If you did not enroll in a plan that provides prescription drug coverage when you first became eligible for Medicare, or you experienced a continuous period of 63 days or more without creditable prescription drug coverage,* you may have to pay a penalty if you join a plan later.
If you must pay a late enrollment penalty, Medicare determines the amount of the penalty using a set formula.
Here's how it works:
The penalty is 1% of the average national premium amount for every month that you didn't have creditable coverage. Medicare determines the amount of the average premium for all Medicare Part D plans in the nation. For 2019, this amount is $33.19.
To calculate the penalty amount:
For example, if you delay enrollment or go for 3 full months without creditable prescription drug coverage, your monthly penalty will be:
1% x 3 = .03
.03 x $33.19 = $0.99
$0.99 rounded to the nearest 10 cents = $1.00
Your monthly premium will be $1.00 more every month for as long as you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan.
For more information, you can call Medicare at 1.800.MEDICARE (1.800.633.4227). TTY users, call 1.877.486.2048, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.