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When can I join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan available in my area?

  1. You can join when you first become eligible for Medicare (three months before the month you turn age 65 until three months after the month you turn age 65). If you get Medicare due to a disability, you can join from three months before to three months after your 25th month of cash disability payments.
  2. If you didn't join when you were first eligible, you can join between October 15 and December 7 of each year. Your coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year. Generally, your next opportunity to make a change will be between October 15 and December 7 of each year.


Note: In certain situations, you may be able to join a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan at other times. For example

If you are eligible for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can also join or switch Medicare Advantage Plans from January 1 to March 31 of any year, but you can't join or drop Medicare prescription drug coverage during this time. For instance, if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage, you could return to the Original Medicare Plan, but you'd have to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan at the same time. If you have questions about whether or not you can join or switch Medicare plans, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Special Note for Joining Medicare Prescription Drug Plans:
If you don't join a Medicare drug plan when you are first eligible, you most likely will have to pay a higher Premium that includes a Penalty, unless you have had continuous Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage. You will have to pay this penalty as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage. The next time you can join is from October 15--December 7 of next year, and your coverage won't start until January 1 of the following year.

(Primary Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Medicare and You Handbook. This content may have been added upon by Q1Group LLC to include further examples, explanations, and links.)
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