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When Should I Enroll?

If you are turning 65 within the next year, it is time to think about Medicare. View the details below and start planning.

Automatic enrollment in Parts A and B

If you already receive Social Security benefits, have Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or are under 65 and have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months, you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday.


To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

If you need to sign up for Parts A and B, you must do so during your initial enrollment period. This is also the time for you to sign up for a Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and/or Part D prescription drug plan. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday. You have a total of seven months to enroll, which includes your birthday month and the three months after. It's a good idea to start planning ahead of time to avoid possible penalties for late enrollment. 

If you enroll...

Your Medicare Advantage plan will start... EXAMPLE: Your birthday is June 7
1-3 months before your birthday month
The first day of your birthday month
If you enroll in March, April, or May - coverage will start June 1
Your birthday month
The first day of the month following your birthday month
If you enroll in June - coverage will start July 1
3 months after your birthday month
The first day of the month that follows your enrollment.
If you enroll in July - coverage will start August 1

What happens if you miss your enrollment period?

Plan ahead so you don't end up in this situation. Learn about possible penalties and late enrollment options for each plan below.

Original Medicare - Parts A and B

If you don’t enroll in Part A and B, when you’re first eligible, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period, between January 1 and March 31 each year. If you do this, your Original Medicare coverage will start July 1. Please note, you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible. You'll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B and could have a gap in your health coverage.

Medicare Advantage plans - Part C

If you do not enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your initial enrollment period, you will have to wait until the annual enrollment period at the end of the year.

Stand-alone Part D plans

If you don’t choose a Medicare Part D plan when you become eligible, and don’t have other creditable drug coverage, there may be a penalty for every month you don’t enroll. So, it may be a good idea to enroll even if you don’t use many prescription drugs.


Medicare Questions?

We're here to help.

1-833-735-4511 (TTY 711)

Oct. 1 - Mar. 31, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., 7 days a week
Apr. 1 - Sept. 30, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday - Friday

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York (Highmark BCBSWNY) is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Highmark BCBSWNY is a Medicare Advantage plan with a Medicare contract and enrollment depends on contract renewal. Highmark BCBSWNY complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-833-735-4515 (TTY 711). 注意:如果您使用繁體中文,您可以免費獲得語言援助服務。請致電 1-833-735-4515 (TTY 711).

Content last updated: October 1, 2021