If you didn’t enroll in Part A & Part B when you were first eligible, then the Medicare General Enrollment Period is for you.

Most people sign up for Medicare when they’re first eligible, and others once their group coverage ends. Life is constantly getting busier and what happens if you miss your chance to enroll in Medicare?

The good news is you do have an enrollment period to start your Medicare benefits late if you miss your initial chance.

General Enrollment Period for Medicare (GEP)

If you miss your first chance to enroll in Original Medicare, you’ll need to use the General Enrollment Period (GEP). The GEP runs from January 1st and ends on March 31st just like the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

General Enrollment Period

During the General Enrollment Period, you can start your Medicare A or B coverage if you didn’t start it yet.

It’s important to note when you use the GEP your start date for coverage will be July 1st of the current year. This means you won’t have health care coverage until then.

In many cases, you may have a late enrollment penalty because you didn’t start coverage when you first became eligible. This’s why it’s so important to start your Medicare coverage when you first become eligible.

How do I know if the late-enrollment period applies to me?

  • Are you 65 or older, eligible for Medicare, but didn’t take Medicare?
  • Do you have coverage that is as good or better than the standard Medicare coverage?

If not, you’ll be susceptible to the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty.

Who does the General Enrollment Period apply to?

To find out if the General Enrollment Period applies to you, ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I 65 or older and haven’t started my A and B coverage?
  • Do I only have Medicare Part A, and am retired, or do I not have other coverage considered creditable for Medicare?
  • Do I have Medicare Part A only and VA coverage?
  • Am I on a Federal Retirement Plan with only Medicare Part A?

If any of these apply to your situation, the General Enrollment Period could apply to you.

If I already have Part A can I add Part B during the General Enrollment Period?

Yes, to enroll and add Part B, simply fill out this form. Once you’ve completed the form, you can mail, email, or take the form down to your local social security office.

Can I delay my Part B during the General Enrollment Period?

In most cases, there’s only one time you can delay your Part B enrollment and not start accruing the penalty.

If you have group or retirement coverage, through your or your spouse’s employer, in most cases you can delay your Part B without accruing the penalty.

Keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. You should check with the group administrator to find out if your coverage is considered creditable coverage for Medicare.

If you’ve delayed your Part B coverage because of this reason you won’t be subject to the late-enrollment penalty. You’ll also be given a Special Enrollment Period to start coverage outside of the General Enrollment Period.

Does the General Enrollment Period impact Part D coverage?

If you start your Part A or Part B in the General Enrollment Period, in some cases you’re given a Special Enrollment Period to start a Part D plan as well.

Keep in mind there’s also a late-enrollment penalty for Part D if you didn’t elect coverage when you first became eligible.

If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period for Part D., it’ll begin on April 1st and end on June 30th. Your Part D plan will start on July 1st.

Does the General Enrollment Period Impact Medicare Advantage coverage?

Since you’re using the General Enrollment Period, you don’t currently have Part A, Part B, or both. One of the requirements of a Medicare Advantage plan is you must be enrolled in both Part A and Part B of Medicare.

Since your coverage for these will start July first, you’ll have an Initial Coverage Election Period for a Medicare Advantage plan. Just like the Part D Special Enrollment Period, it begins on April 1st and continues until June 30th.

Your Medicare Advantage plan would also start on July 1st. An enrollment selection must be made prior to July 1st or you’ll lose your chance to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan until the Annual Election Period.

How to Get Help with the General Enrollment Period

We’re always only one call away and ready to save the day. Give us a call, or fill out our online request form. We have knowledgeable agents here to assist you through all the aspects of Medicare.

Since we work with multiple insurance carriers we can truly assist you in finding the solution that fits your needs. We make your Medicare journey simple. So no matter what phase you are in, we are here to help.

Picture of the author
by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.