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Medicare Advantage Enrollment

You can apply for a Medicare Advantage plan (also known as Medicare Part C) when you first become eligible for Medicare. There are also other times during the year when you can change your Medicare Advantage plan. For the most part, unless you are signing up for Medicare for the first time, Medicare Advantage enrollment periods occur at specific times throughout the year.

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period

Whether you’re enrolling in Medicare Part C for the first time or want to make changes to an existing Medicare Advantage plan, there are many things to keep in mind. You’ll need to know if you qualify for an enrollment period, when your benefits will start, and what happens if you don’t meet the deadlines.

Can I enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan anytime?

You can only enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan during specific enrollment periods. If you are new to Medicare, we also have information about how to enroll in your Medicare Part A and B benefits and offer a comparison of Medicare Advantage vs. Original Medicare.

Enrollment Period What are the enrollment dates? Who can enroll during this time? What changes can I make? When will my benefits start if I sign up during this enrollment period? What if I miss this enrollment period?

Initial Enrollment Period

  • Begins three months before your 65th birthday.
  • Ends three months after your 65th birthday.
  • You can also sign up the month of your birthday.
  • Those who are turning 65, and “aging in” to Medicare, and who are not already receiving Social Security benefits.
  • You can enroll in Part A and/or Part B.
  • You can also enroll in Medicare Advantage (Part C) during your initial enrollment period, after enrolling in Part A and Part B.
  • Your benefits start on the first day of the month you turn 65 if you sign up during the 3 months before your birthday.
  • If your birthday is on the first of the month, benefits start the first day of the month before your birthday.
  • If you sign up during one of the 3 months after your birthday, your enrollment begins the first day of the following month. 
  • If you do not sign up for Medicare Advantage during your initial enrollment into Medicare, you will need to sign up during one of the other enrollment periods.

Annual Election Period

  • Each year, from October 15 to December 7.
For those who want to make a change in their plan, here are the types of changes you can make to Medicare Advantage plans:
  • Add a Medicare Advantage plan if you currently only have Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another type of Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t have Prescription Drug coverage, to one that does.
  • Or switch from a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan that has Prescription Drug coverage to one that doesn’t.
  • Enrollment in your new plan begins on January 1 of the following year.
  • If you miss open enrollment you will need to wait until the next year to change your Medicare Advantage plan, unless you meet the conditions of another enrollment period.

Special Enrollment Periods

  • Special time period based on your life experiences.
  • Those who have had a life change that qualifies them to switch or join a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • These may be related to many different things such as moving out of your plan’s service area, losing employee or other coverage, moving in or out of a nursing home, becoming eligible for Medicaid, or a plan with a 5-star rating becomes available.
  • Dates for Special Election Periods vary.
  • If you qualify for and miss your Special Enrollment Period you will need to wait for one of the other enrollment periods.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

  • Each year, from January 1 to March 31.
  • Anyone currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can switch or drop their plan.
  • Benefits begin the first of the month.
  • The Annual Election Period (AEP) soon follows, from October 15 to December 7.

Do I have to enroll in Medicare Advantage every year?

You will be automatically re-enrolled in your Medicare Advantage plan annually – unless your insurer no longer provides the plan or you choose to switch plans. Then you can shop for a different plan during the Annual Enrollment Period.

How do I enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?

We can help you find the right Medicare Advantage plan for your lifestyle and budget. We have tools to help you search for plans based on what’s important to you. Answer a few quick questions and we’ll provide a recommendation on the Medicare plan that matches you best. You can compare our Medicare Advantage HMO, Medicare Advantage PPO and other plans based on benefits, costs, quality, prescription drug coverage, and doctors. You can save your favorites and come back during one of the enrollment periods to apply.

Learn more about our Medicare Advantage HMO plans and our Medicare Advantage PPO plans.

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Y0114_21_3000539_I_C CMS Accepted (07/17/2021)

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of: In Colorado: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc. In Connecticut: Anthem Health Plans, Inc. In Georgia: Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. In Indiana: Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. In Kentucky: Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, Inc. In Maine: Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc. In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area): RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. In Nevada: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc., dba HMO Nevada. In New Hampshire: Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. HMO plans are administered by Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. and underwritten by Matthew Thornton Health Plan, Inc. In Ohio: Community Insurance Company. In Virginia: Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc. trades as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia, and its service area is all of Virginia except for the City of Fairfax, the Town of Vienna, and the area east of State Route 123. In Wisconsin: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (BCBSWI), underwrites or administers PPO and indemnity policies and underwrites the out of network benefits in POS policies offered by Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (Compcare) or Wisconsin Collaborative Insurance Corporation (WCIC). Compcare underwrites or administers HMO or POS policies; WCIC underwrites or administers Well Priority HMO or POS policies. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The SilverSneakers fitness program is provided by Tivity Health, an independent company. Tivity Health and SilverSneakers are registered trademarks or trademarks of Tivity Health, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. © 2018 Tivity Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

For Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans: This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare.

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Call Customer Service, (TTY:711) for more information.

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