How Changes to Medicare’s IEP Will Benefit Seniors in 2023

Late last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) authorized several important rule changes for the 2023 Medicare enrollment periods. Do you know what to expect? 

Understanding the details behind Medicare enrollment can be the difference between timely care and inconvenient delays. Luckily, the changes are easy to understand and help make Medicare coverage more comprehensive than before. Here’s what you need to know.

Changes to the Initial Enrollment Period

The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is tailored to seniors who are turning 65, thus reaching the Medicare threshold. If you’re reaching this milestone, and don’t have health insurance coverage through a job, enrolling in Medicare during your IEP is a great way to obtain coverage. But what is your IEP? This window covers: 

  • Three months before the month you turn 65
  • The month you turn 65
  • Three months after you turn 65

In previous years, there would be a gap in coverage of up to three months if you chose to enroll in Medicare during the final portion of your IEP. This is the three-month window that follows your 65th birthday. In 2023, that coverage gap has been eliminated! Your Medicare coverage now begins on the first day of the month following your enrollment.

To illustrate this change, let’s imagine your 65th birthday is in September. Your IEP and coverage start dates now look like this:

  • June enrollment: Coverage begins September 1
  • July enrollment: Coverage begins September 1
  • August enrollment: Coverage begins September 1
  • September enrollment (birthday month): Coverage begins October 1
  • October enrollment: Coverage begins November 1
  • November enrollment: Coverage begins December 1
  • December enrollment: Coverage begins January 1

If you apply for coverage in the three months before your birthday month, your coverage will still begin on the first day of your birthday month. This gap isn’t changing so seniors should be aware!

The Medicare system can be confusing, especially if you’re enrolling for the first time. Of course, your Medicare insurance agent can answer any questions and help you find the best fit plan for you. You can also navigate to the Social Security Administration’s website to sign up for Medicare, as well as find more answers about the Initial Enrollment Period.

Changes to the General Enrollment Period

The General Enrollment Period (GEP) is for those who missed the initial Medicare Part B enrollment period and do not qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This period lasts from January 1 to March 31, which is unchanged from previous years. 

Again, the difference in 2023 is the time between enrolling and receiving coverage. Before this year, GEP enrollees would not start receiving Medicare coverage until July 1. Starting this year, however, coverage begins on the first day of the month after you enroll.

For example, for the General Enrollment Period in 2024, the dates of enrollment and subsequent coverage would look like this:

  • January enrollment: Coverage begins February 1
  • February enrollment: Coverage begins March 1
  • March enrollment: Coverage begins April 1

In addition to using the Social Security website, you can learn more about the General Enrollment Period by phone. You can reach the Social Security Administration’s direct line at 800.772.1213.

Closing the Gaps in Medicare Coverage

This year’s important changes to enrollment periods give seniors more consistent Medicare coverage. You’ll no longer have to wait several months for your benefits to kick in after enrolling! If you’re turning 65 this year, or are looking ahead to 2024’s GEP, rest assured the Medicare umbrella will cover you quicker than ever before. If you have Medicare questions or need help with your IEP, get in touch with us at 877.255.6273.


image credit: shutterstock/Brian A Jackson

Pete Blasi