MEDICARE ENROLLMENT PERIODS
Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) refers to the first time an eligible person can enroll in the federal Medicare program. It’s a period that starts three months before the month of your 65th birthday, continues through your birth month, and lasts for three months after it. Signing up for Medicare during your IEP is one way for you to avoid any late-enrollment penalties.
Most people are enrolled automatically ahead of their 65th birthday, but the IEP is the first time people can enroll manually if they have to. You also have the option of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan at this time, as long as you are entitled to Medicare Part A or enrolled in Part B.
Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)
This is the first time a newly eligible person can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (also called Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage plans are sold through independent insurance companies and must provide at least the same amount of coverage as Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. In order to “activate” your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP), you have to be enrolled in both parts of Original Medicare.
The ICEP can run parallel to the Initial Enrollment Period, if you enroll in both Medicare Part A and Part B when you are first eligible. Because you must pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, you can opt out of this coverage during your Initial Enrollment Period. Doing this means that you cannot enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan