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Two Medicare Enrollment Periods Ends March 31

The general enrollment period of Medicare Part A and B ends on March 31, 2023, along with the enrollment period to switch or drop the Advantage Plan.
The general enrollment period of Medicare Part A and B ends on March 31, 2023, along with the enrollment period to switch or drop the Advantage Plan. (Photo: AARP)

If you have not enrolled in Medicare and failed to qualify for a special enrollment period, you have until March 31 to sign up. The deadline to switch to another plan in Medicare or drop the Advantage Plan is also set on the same day. If you miss the enrollment periods of the two services, you will have to wait for another enrollment window.

If You Missed Your Initial Enrollment Period, You Have Until March 31 to Sign Up

Once you reach the age of 65, you automatically qualify for Medicare. You are given an initial enrollment period or a seven-month window to sign up, starting three months before your birthday and ending three months later.

Those who failed to sign up during the initial enrollment period or failed to qualify can sign up again between January 1 and March 31. This general enrollment period is for Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient care coverage) plans. If you manage to apply for this general enrollment period, your coverage will start the month after you enroll. However, you might face a late enrollment penalty of 10% for each year if you fail to sign up for Part B.

You have to carefully choose the appropriate Medicare Plan, as any coverage will be locked for the rest of 2023.

You have to carefully choose the appropriate Medicare Plan, as any coverage will be locked for the rest of 2023. (Photo: AARP)

See: Needs Assistance for Your Medicare Drugs? Check out the Extra Help Program 

You can also sign up for Part C (Advantage Plan) once you’ve applied for Parts A and B, but it must be done before your Part B coverage starts. Part C may or may not include Part D prescription drug coverage. Those who want a standalone Part D plan might have to wait for Medicare’s announcement of its enrollment period.

Danielle Roberts, the co-founder of Boomer Benefits, advises applicants to consult an agent if they could qualify for a special period for Part D. Otherwise, applicants would have to wait for Medicare’s fall annual enrollment period for the Part D plan. Note that Part D also has a lifelong enrollment penalty of 1% of the national base premium ($32.74 in 2023) for each month you don’t have the plan.

Individuals can also sign up for Medicare supplemental plan or Medigap during this general enrollment period. Roberts said the effective date of Part B would initiate a six-month Medigap open enrollment period.

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If You Want to Change Coverage with Advantage Plan

Medicare allows Advantage Plan (Part C) enrollees to switch to another plan or drop it in favor of basic Medicare (Parts A and B) between January 1 and March 31. However, this general enrollment period only allows one switch.

Roberts reminds the enrollees to choose another Medicare Advantage Plan carefully, as any coverage choice will be locked for the rest of 2023.

Note that if you want to return to basic Medicare often means losing drug coverage, as it usually comes with Advantage Plan. It also means you must enroll in a standalone Part D plan.

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