Medical costs can become expensive, and several seniors benefit from Medicare. When you qualify for Medicare, there are various timeframes for enrolling in a Medicare plan known as enrollment periods. Read on to understand the different Medicare enrollment periods.

Initial enrollment period

Once you turn 65, you are eligible and can sign up for Medicare. The initial enrollment period includes the month you turn 65, the three months prior, and three months after your birth month. Usually sufficient, you could be subject to higher premiums if you enroll after this seven-month window.

Special Enrolment Period

This period allows you to sign up for,  switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. To be eligible, you should have moved out of your plan’s service area or lost your current healthcare coverage.

General Enrollment Period

If you missed signing up during the Initial Enrollment Period, you could take advantage of the General Enrollment Period. You can enroll for Original Medicare between January 1 and March 31 each year as long as you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Though you may be subject to higher premiums, your Medicare coverage will start July 1.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Every year between January 1 and March 31, seniors have the option to change from their current Medicare Advantage plan or to move back to Original Medicare. New coverage for these changes starts from the first day of the next month.

Annual Enrollment Period

From October 15 to December 7 each year, anyone can make changes to their coverage and Medicare plan. During this period, you can make changes to prescription drug plans, switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or switch insurers.

Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period

To help with additional medical costs, many seniors get a Medicare supplement plan. If you have already enrolled for Medicare Part B, the open enrollment period for such programs is a six-month window that starts on the first day of the month you turn 65. Missing this enrollment period may make you ineligible to buy a Medicare supplement plan at a later date.

Keeping these enrollment periods in mind, you can save money while using Medicare to the best of its potential.