Understanding Part D Enrollment Periods

The first step to finding the right Part D plan – understanding Part D enrollment periods

Knowing the rules of any game will allow you a better chance to be successful. Part D is no different. The following video will give you a good overview of Part D enrollment periods.

Part D enrollment explained

In order to enroll in a Part D plan you must meet eligibility guidelines. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have Medicare Parts A and B
  • Live within the plan’s service area

You must also have a valid enrollment period available. There are three types of Part D enrollment periods:

  • Initial Enrollment Period
  • Annual Enrollment Period
  • Special Enrollment Periods

The Initial Enrollment Period lasts for 7 months and includes:

  • The 3 months prior to the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • The 3 months after the month you turn 65

If you receive Medicare benefits due to a disability, you also have an enrollment period which lasts 7 months.

This enrollment period will begin 3 months prior to your 25th month of disability and end 3 months after your 25th month of disability.

You would be wise to submit an application prior to your first month of Medicare eligibility so your Part D benefits will be activated at the same time as your Medicare benefits.

The Part D Annual Enrollment Period gives you the opportunity to drop, switch or enroll in a plan each year. This enrollment period begins each year on October 15th and ends December 7th.

Insurance companies can begin marketing their plans on October 1st but cannot accept applications until October15th.

You can find new plans published online on Medicare’s website beginning on October 1st.

Part D Special Enrollment Periods

The initial enrollment period and annual enrollment period are available to everyone who becomes eligible for Medicare, but there are also Special Enrollment Periods that are generally triggered by some change in an individual’s circumstance.

Some Special Enrollment Periods include:

  • When you move from a plan’s service area
  • When you lose other creditable coverage
  • When you live in an institution, such as a nursing home

You are also eligible if you qualify for extra help paying your Part D. This is also known as the low income subsidy. If you qualify you can change plans at any time.

There is also a Special Enrollment Period that is predicated in part on what plans are available in your service area. This is known as the 5 Star Enrollment Period.

If you are eligible for Part D or enrolled in a Part D plan that has a Medicare Star rating of 4 stars or less and you have a 5 Star plan available, you can make one change per year.

Medicare Star rating for all plans can be found on the Medicare website.

Understanding these Part D enrollment periods will allow you to maximize your opportunity to choose the right plan for your circumstances.

Next: Video 3 – Comparing Part D Plans

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