Medicare - Enrollment

Learn about Medicare enrollment, including important dates and penalties for late enrollment.

Enrollment period types



6-18 months before your 65th birthday

Planning for Medicare is an important step before making a decision. Knowing the important dates, understanding the differences between the available insurance plan options in your area, and being aware of your current medical insurance needs is important to choosing the right plan for your needs.

Eligibility period

Initial 7-Month Eligibility Period

  • Pre-existing conditions do not apply as long as you enroll during your initial 7-month enrollment period
  • Original Medicare may cost more later if you don't sign up during your initial 7-month enrollment period
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Future Enrollment Periods

Switching Plans 
Medicare Advantage and Part D 
You can switch plans every year during the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7)

Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans can be changed at any time, subject to medical underwriting.

Qualifying life event, like moving out of state, can change plans with no underwriting.

Signing up Later 
People who missed their initial 7-month enrollment period or let their coverage lapse may sign up during the General Enrollment Period (Jan. 1-March 31).

  • Penalties may apply to Part A and Part B & D due to federal regulations if you miss your Initial Eligibility Period
  • Pre-existing conditions may limit your options and influence pricing

Enrollment dates

The timeframe for enrolling in Medicare coverage is called an enrollment period.

Initial Enrollment  
Period (IEP)

Seven-month window when you turn 65

Annual Enrollment  
Period (AEP)

Oct. 15-Dec. 7

General Enrollment  
Period (GEP)

Jan. 1-March 31

Special Enrollment  
Period (SEP)

During certain qualifying life events

Late enrollment penalties (LEP)

It is important to know when your personal enrollment windows are and to enroll on time. You may be subject to penalties if you don’t. You may however, qualify for a Special Enrollment Period or another exception.

Part A

If you pay a premium, you could pay an additional 10% of the premium every month for two times the number of years enrollment was delayed. Remember, most people do not have to pay a Part A premium.

Part B

If you delay enrollment you could pay an additional 10% of the premium amount every month for each of the 12-month periods enrollment was delayed.

Part D (prescription drug) plans

You could pay an additional 1% of the average Part D premium for each month you delay enrollment.You will pay the penalty each month for as long as you are enrolled in Part D.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plans

If you do not elect to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan during the six months after the month you turn 65 or older and enroll in Part B, you could be denied coverage or charged a higher premium based on your health.

Initial enrollment timeline

Turning 65 soon? Here is a handy checklist to help keep you on track.

6-9 months before you turn 65

  • Learn about Medicare Parts A, B, C and D.
  • Understand how Medicare Supplement insurance plans work.
  • Attend a seminar to learn about health coverage options and ask questions.
  • Meet with your employee benefits manager if you are still working.

3-6 months before you turn 65

  • Compare plans available in your area.
  • Determine if you will get Medicare automatically or need to sign up manually.
  • Ask your doctors if they participate in Medicare.

0-3 months before you turn 65

  • Decide how you want to get your Medicare coverage:
  • Add a Medicare Supplement insurance plan
  • Add a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D)
  • A Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan may be available in your area

Questions about our Medicare coverage?

Phone hours:               
Medicare Advantage: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday
All other inquiries: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Helpful links


Medicare Supplement is offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas Solutions is not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. By providing information to Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas Solutions a Medicare Advisor may contact you.

e715D 08/23 Rev, 08/23