Joining a plan
To join a Medicare health plan, you generally must:
- Have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) .
- Live in the service area of the plan you want to join.
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present in the U.S.
- Have your Medicare Number and your Part A and/or Part B coverage start dates. Find this information on your Medicare card.
When to join a Medicare health or drug plan
You can only join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or Medicare drug plan (Part D) at certain times, called enrollment periods.
|Enrollment period:||You can:||Coverage starts:|
Initial Enrollment Period
Starts 3 months before you get Medicare and ends 3 months after you get Medicare.
Join any plan.
Varies, depending on when the plan gets your request:
Initial Enrollment Period – New to Part B
The 3 months before your Part B starts.
|Join any Medicare Advantage Plan with or without drug coverage.||The same day as when your Part B coverage starts.|
|Open Enrollment Period|
October 15-December 7.
|January 1 of the next year.|
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
|First of the month after the plan gets your request.|
|Special Enrollment Period|
Varies. Only for certain situations that happen in your life, like moving to a new address, losing or changing your current coverage, getting Medicaid, or getting Extra Help to pay drug costs, and more. Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods.
Generally, you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or Medicare drug plan, or switch to another plan.
Starting January 1, 2024, if you sign up for Part A and/or Part B during a Special Enrollment Period because of an exceptional situation, you’ll have 2 months to join a plan or switch to another plan.
|Varies. Generally, the first of the month after the plan gets your request.|
Other times when you can join a health or drug plan.
For details about when you can join Cost Plans, demonstrations/pilot programs, or the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), contact the plans.
How to join a Medicare health or drug plan
1. Find out which plans are available in your area.
- Compare plans in your area – Find out what they cost and services they provide. Enter prescription drugs you take to get an estimate of your monthly and yearly cost for each plan.
- Use your “Medicare & You” handbook to find plans – they’re listed in the back.
- Talk to a trusted agent or broker – Check the rules they have to follow.
2. Make sure the plan meets your needs:
- Check if the plan covers your prescriptions and includes the benefits you need.
- Ask your doctors if they’re in the plan’s network.
- Review costs, like monthly premiums, deductibles , and the estimate of your yearly costs for drugs you take.
- If you have other health insurance or drug coverage, talk to your benefits administrator or other insurance provider before you make any changes to your current coverage.
- If you live in another state for part of the year, check if the plan will cover you there.
3. Join the plan. Once you choose a plan, you can:
- Select “Enroll” for the plan you want to join.
- Contact the plan to join. You can call them or visit their website. You can also ask for a paper form to fill out and mail back to the plan, but they must get it before your enrollment period ends.
- Call us at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.