The Difference in Open Enrollment, Annual Election and Guaranteed Issue Periods


Around this time of year, you will start hearing the terms “medicare” and “open enrollment” everywhere you turn. You’ll see famous celebrities endorsing certain companies and plans on the TV. What you won’t always see is the fine print at the bottom of the advertisements. This is an important time of year for many and medicare is an important decision for those turning 65. Let’s breakdown the different sign-up periods per medicare option available. (If you are unsure about the differences in Original Medicare, Medicare Supplements, or Medicare Advantage plans then read our previous post on this topic here!)

Medicare Initial Enrollment Period

3 months before you turn 65, the month of your 65th birthday and the following 3 months are your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. During this time, you have the opportunity to enroll in original medicare (Parts A & B) or opt out of original medicare and choose a Medicare Advantage Plan. Typically, you are automatically enrolled in parts A & B unless you tell the social security office otherwise.  You can delay Part B if you are still working and have creditable coverage through an employer. You can contact an agent to see if you have creditable health coverage.

Annual Election Period

During the annual election period from October 15th to December 7th annually, if you are in a Medicare Supplement plan you can drop the coverage and switch to a Medicare Advantage plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan. You can also switch your prescription drug plans during this time. Whenever you elect to make a change during this time the effective date for the new policy will be January 1.

Guaranteed Issue Period

This applies to Medicare Supplement plans only.  This period is the first six months after you enroll in Part B of Original Medicare. During this time, you do not have to answer health questions or go through medical underwriting to enroll in a medicare supplement plan.

Open Enrollment Period

Open enrollment applies to Medicare Advantage. This period is between January 1 and March 31 annually. During this time, you can switch Medicare Advantage plans if you are unsatisfied with the one you signed up for during the Annual Election Period. You can also go from a Medicare Advantage plan back to original Medicare and have the ability to join a prescription drug plan during that time.

Hopefully this helps clear up the different timelines you need to be aware of as you look at Medicare for the first time or consider switching your Medicare path down the road. Even with this resource it can still be a tricky time. We recommend meeting with a local agent that can take into account your specific situation and help walk you through the process to best meet your needs.

Give us a call. We’re here to help!


Investment advisory services made available through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Bradshaw and Weil Insurance and Financial planning are not affiliated companies. Insurance products are offered through the insurance business Bradshaw and Weil Insurance and Financial Planning. Bradshaw and Weil Insurance and Financial Planning is also an Investment Advisory practice that offers products and services through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Adviser. AEWM does not offer insurance products. The insurance products offered by Bradshaw and Weil Insurance and Financial Planning are not subject to Investment Advisor requirements. AEWM and Bradshaw and Weil Insurance and Financial planning are not affiliated companies. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency. 1508556 – 10/22

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