Medicare has deadlines that you need to meet to avoid extra payments or risk having to wait another year. Each plan is a little different—here's the information for each one.

Medicare Advantage

Your initial enrollment period (IEP) for Medicare Advantage is the same as Original Medicare—the seven-month window that includes the three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and the three months after your birthday.

  • If you don't enroll during this time period, you'll have to wait until the annual enrollment period at the end of every calendar year. An exception to this rule is if you're covered by an employer-sponsored health plan and continue on that coverage past 65.

Medicare Part D

Unless you have creditable prescription drug coverage through an employer, a union, the VA or other entity, you must enroll in Part D when you become eligible, during your IEP when you turn 65.

  • If you enroll late, you could end up paying late-enrollment penalties down the road.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap)

The best time to buy Medicare Supplement, also known as Medigap, is when you're first eligible. Coverage can begin on the same day your Part B coverage starts. You're guaranteed acceptance on Medicare Supplement within the first six months of your Part B effective date, regardless of any pre-existing condition.

  • If you sign up for Medicare Supplement more than six months after your Part B effective date, you could have to go through underwriting and may not qualify for the plan you want. Or, you might have to pay higher premiums.

Last updated 10/01/2018