If you didn’t enroll in Medicare 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 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 1 and ends on March 31, just like the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.


You can start your Medicare A or B coverage during the General Enrollment Period if you haven’t started it yet. When you use the GEP, it’s important to note that your start date for coverage is the 1st day of the following month.

You may have a late enrollment penalty in many cases because you didn’t start coverage when you first became eligible. Starting your Medicare coverage is essential when you first become eligible to avoid the late-enrollment penalty.

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 as good or better coverage as 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?

Ask yourself these questions to determine if the General Enrollment Period applies to you.

  • 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.

Can I add Part B during the General Enrollment Period if I already have Part A?

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. You can also enroll online at the Social Security Administration’s website.

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, you can delay your Part B without accruing the penalty in most cases.

Keep in mind that this isn’t always the case. You should check with the group administrator to determine if your coverage is considered creditable 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 may be given a Special Enrollment Period to start coverage outside 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 obtain a Special Enrollment Period to start a Part D plan as well. Remember, there’s also a late-enrollment penalty for Part D if you didn’t elect coverage when you first became eligible.

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 to enroll in Part A and Part B of Medicare.

You’ll have an Initial Coverage Election Period for a Medicare Advantage plan. Like the Part D Special Enrollment Period, it begins three months before your Medicare start date and ends the day Medicare coverage begins.

Your Medicare Advantage plan would start the same day as your Medicare coverage. An enrollment selection must occur before you’re Medicare start date, 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 genuinely assist you in finding the solution that fits your needs. We make your Medicare journey simple. So no matter what phase you’re in, we’re here to help.

Written By:
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Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications 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.
Reviewed By:
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Rodolfo Marrero, Rodolfo Marrero is one of the co-founders at Medigap.com. He has been helping consumers find the right coverage since the site was founded in 2013. Rodolfo is a licensed insurance agent that works hand-in-hand with the team to ensure the accuracy of the content.