Medicare Enrollment Periods

There are certain Medicare enrollment periods when you can join, change, or drop a Medicare plan. In other words, you are not allowed to enroll or disenroll whenever you want. There are five types of Medicare enrollment periods:

1. Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)

ICEP is when you first become eligible for Part B, and occurs on or around the time you turn 65. You may join:

  • Three months prior to your birthday month
  • During your birthday month
  • Three months after your birthday month

2. Annual Enrollment Period

This is when you can change or drop a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan. This period occurs during the fourth quarter of the year. For the upcoming year, it is from October 15 to December 7. You may take more than one election during this period, but the last one you choose during that period is the one that counts. Coverage changes are effective January 1.

3. Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP)

Beneficiaries may disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to original Medicare between Jan. 1 to Feb. 14. You cannot switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during this period. If you move from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare, you may enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan during this time.

4. Special Enrollment Periods (SEP)

Special Enrollment Periods exist for beneficiaries with Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plans who may lose coverage because of certain qualifying events. These beneficiaries can enroll outside of the AEP if they experience one of the following:

  • A loss of group coverage
  • A move from the plan service area
  • Dual eligibility

5. 5-Star Special Enrollment Period

CMS measures health plan quality on a scale of 1 to 5 stars to help you make an informed decision. You can switch to a 5-star plan under these guidelines:

  • You may only switch once between Dec. 8-Nov. 30
  • Your current plan must be Original Medicare (with or without a Medigap plan) or a Medicare Advantage plan.

NEXT: Medicare Star Quality Ratings
PREVIOUS: What Is Medicare?

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If you have questions about enrollment,
CALL the U.S. Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213
or visit ssa.gov


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We offer both Medicare Advantage HMO plans and Medicare Advantage PPO plans in different areas of Washington state.
Clear Care® HMO service area (PDF)
Clear Care® PPO service area (PDF)