Even if you’re not currently taking medications, the best way to avoid costly, lifetime late-enrollment penalties in the future is to enroll in Medicare Part D as soon as you’re eligible for Medicare.
The time of year you choose to sign up for Medicare Part D is important and can impact both costs and eligibility. The seven months of enrollment eligibility around your 65th birthday apply to Parts A and B as well as Part D. However, there are a few windows of opportunity for making changes, as follows:
Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
You can enroll in a Part D plan when you are first eligible for Medicare. The Initial Enrollment Period is a 7-month period that includes the three months before you turn age 65, the month you turn age 65, and the 3 months after you turn age 65.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
You can enroll in, cancel, or change your prescription drug plan during the AEP, which is each year from October 15 to December 7.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP)
If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage, or choose to enroll in Original Medicare. These changes may allow you to select a Prescription Drug plan. This period is January 1 to March 31 each year.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
You can enroll in a prescription drug plan if you qualify for an SEP. You may qualify for an SEP if you have certain life events or if you are eligible for Extra Help with your prescription costs. Click here to learn more about when SEP applies.