Special Election Periods

Medicare Health plans for Individuals

Enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan (with or without Medicare Part D) or a Medicare Part D plan is limited to certain times outside of the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). You can’t always sign up whenever you want, but you may qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP), which would allow you to enroll.

You may qualify if any of the following apply to you:

  • You were enrolled in another organization’s plan, but recently moved into a different service area.
  • You are Medicare-Medicaid eligible or you recently lost eligibility.
  • You qualify for Extra Help to pay for your prescription drug costs or you recently lost eligibility for Extra Help.
  • You will soon be enrolling in, are currently enrolled in or recently left an employer Group health plan.
  • You recently lost creditable prescription drug coverage.
  • You moved back to the United States after living outside the country.
  • You gained lawful presence status in the United States.

Many other events may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. For more information, call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (toll-free) or 1-877-486-2048 (toll-free TTY for the hearing/speech impaired), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) and Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)

Retiring at age 65

If you plan to retire at 65, your initial Medicare enrollment window is a 7-month period (usually around your 65th birthday) that includes:

  • 3 months before you're first eligible for Medicare coverage.
  • the month you start to qualify for Medicare coverage.
  • 3 months after you start to qualify for Medicare coverage.

These 7 months typically also count as an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for part D (prescription drug) coverage. This means you can sign up for a Medicare Advantahe plan with Part D.

Retiring after 65

If you plan to retire after 65, you can enroll in Part A and/or Part B during a 8-month period that begins the month after the employer or union group health plan coverage ends or when the employment ends (which ever is first).

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is an HMO plan and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal. Submit a complaint about your Medicare plan at www.Medicare.gov or learn about filing a complaint by contacting the Medicare Ombudsman. Y0028_7465_C.

This page last updated 10-01-2020.

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