When can you sign up for Medicare?

Your first chance to sign up for Original Medicare (Parts A & B) will be around your 65th birthday. When you sign up for Original Medicare, you are enrolling in basic hospital and medical coverage only.

After you enroll in Original Medicare, you can apply for optional Medicare health and drug coverage. Plans that provide this coverage are called Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D). Your first chance to sign up for these plans also is around your 65th birthday.

If you do not enroll in a Medicare plan around your 65th birthday, there are also designated periods when you can enroll each year.

A period when you can sign up for a Medicare plan is called an "enrollment period."

Signing up for Medicare hospital & medical coverage (Parts A & B)

You may be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically when you turn 65.

If you are not enrolled automatically, you can sign up during any of the 3 enrollment periods outlined in the following chart.

Original Medicare Enrollment Periods
Enrollment period Dates
Initial Enrollment Period Starts 3 months before the month you turn 65
Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65
Medicare Open Enrollment Period
(aka Annual Enrollment)
Starts January 1
Ends March 31
Special Enrollment Period Depends on your personal situation (such as if you move or lose your insurance coverage)

More info: Original Medicare eligibility and enrollment

Signing up for optional Medicare health & drug coverage (Parts C & D)

You will not be enrolled in Part C or Part D automatically; you must apply during an enrollment period.

The following table shows when you can apply for or make changes to your Medicare Part C or Part D plans.

Medicare Part C & D Enrollment Periods
Enrollment period Dates Actions you can take during this period
Initial Enrollment Period Starts 3 months before the month you turn 65
Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65
Sign up for a plan
Medicare Open Enrollment Period
(aka Annual Enrollment)
Starts October 15
Ends December 7
Sign up for a plan
Switch plans
Leave a plan
Special Enrollment Period Depends on your personal situation (such as if you move or lose your insurance coverage) Depends on your personal situation (such as if you move or lose your insurance coverage)
Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period Starts January 1
Ends February 14
Leave a Part C plan

More info: