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Knowing when and how to sign up for Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and a Prescription Drug (Part D) plan will make it easier for you to get the coverage you need when the time is right.

How do You Sign up for Original Medicare?

You apply for Medicare with Social Security. You can sign up online, by phone, or at your local office. If you’re already getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you don’t have to worry about enrolling.

When Should You Sign up for Original Medicare?

The best time to apply is during your initial enrollment period. That’s the three months before, the month you turn 65, and the three months after. This will help you avoid fees or delays in coverage. If you have questions or are wondering about signing up for Medicare while still working, we can help you find the best time to sign up.

When is the Best Time to Buy Medicare Advantage or a Prescription Drug (Part D) Plan?

Unless you have better drug coverage from another source, the best time to buy a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Prescription Drug (Part D) plan is right after you become eligible for Original Medicare. This could be during your initial enrollment period when you turn 65, when you are eligible because of disability, or another reason. Currently Empire does not offer standalone Part D plans in New York, but you are able to purchase Medicare Advantage plans wit prescription drug coverage included.

If you don’t sign up during this time you will have to wait until the Annual Election Period, unless you are subject to a Special Enrollment Period (SEP)

Even if you don’t use prescription drugs now, purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage for the future is a good idea. And since prescription drug use increases with age, it can protect you from paying unexpected costs if you ever need to take one.

When Can You Add a Medicare Supplement plan?

In New York, once enrolled in Medicare, you can sign up for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan at any time. If you are already enrolled in Medicare, open enrollment period for Medicare Supplement does not close and residents are allowed to enroll at any time. You can enroll in Original Medicare during your open enrollment period. This period lasts six months and begins the first day of the month in which you are 65 or older and enrolled in Original Medicare Part B. Sign up during this six-month period to lock in the coverage you need for the future.

How and When Can You Switch Medicare Plans?

If you want to make a change to your plan or switch to another plan, such as changing from a Medicare Advantage to a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan, you can do so during the Annual Election Period (AEP). The AEP lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year.

Outside of the AEP, if you have certain life events such as moving or your plan changes, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You may also be able to switch your Medicare Supplement plans if you have guaranteed issue rights or are within your 6-month initial open enrollment period.

How Do You Sign Up for a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement and Prescription Drug (Part D) Plan?

You can sign-up for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan with us. In New York, we don't offer standalone Prescription Drug (Part D) plans, but you can get prescription drug coverage included throug your Medicare Advantage Plan.

Our secure online store lets you shop for plans. You enter information from your red, white and blue Medicare ID card, any prescriptions, your preferred doctors and facilities and answer a few questions and we’ll show you plans that are a match for you. You can also get answers to your questions, see quote, and can apply online.

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Y0114_18_37146_U CMS ACCEPTED 09/25/2018

Empire BlueCross BlueShield is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Empire BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal. Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc. (Empire) is the legal entity that has contracted with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to offer the HMO plan noted above or herein. Empire is the risk-bearing entity licensed under applicable state law to offer the HMO plan(s) noted. Empire has retained the services of its related companies and the authorized agents/brokers/producers to provide administrative services and/or to make the HMO plan(s) available in this region. Services provided by Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc. licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Contact will be made by an insurance agent or insurance company.

Once enrolled into your Medicare Supplement insurance plan, your coverage is guaranteed for the life of the plan with only two exceptions/restrictions: nonpayment of premiums and material misrepresentation.

This policy meets the minimum standards for MEDICARE SUPPLEMENT INSURANCE as defined by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The expected benefit ratio for this policy is 65%. This ratio is the portion of future premiums which the company expects to return as benefits, when averaged over all people with this policy.

Products offered are not connected with or endorsed by any division or agency of the state of New York, the United States government, or the Federal Medicare program.

The policy form numbers are: APLANAM(17)-NY BCBS; APLANBM(17)-NY BCBS; APLANFM(17)-NY BCBS; APLANGM(17)-NY BCBS; and APLANNM(17)-NY BCBS.


Services provided by Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and/or HealthPlus HP, LLC, Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Empire BlueCross Retiree Solutions and/or Empire BlueCross BlueShield Retiree Solutions is the trade name of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. All external sites will open in a new browser window. Please view our website Privacy Policy for more information.

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

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