When and How to Enroll - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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When and How to Enroll


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Everyone who becomes eligible for Medicare has a seven month Initial Enrollment Period to sign-up for Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, as well as the prescription drug plan of their choice. To avoid a lifetime penalty for late enrollment in a Medicare prescription drug plan, make sure you first enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period.

How to enroll

There are several ways to enroll in the drug plan of your choice. You can enroll on-line through Medicare's website at Medicare.gov or by calling them at 1-800-MEDICARE. You can also ask that a paper application be sent to you. You can also ask the National MS Society, your State Health Insurance Program, or the Medicare Rights Center for assistance. 

Once enrolled in a Part D plan, your opportunity to switch to a different plan is limited to the Annual Coordinated Election Period from October 15 to December 7 every year. There are exceptions to this rule for people with special circumstances, such as moving into a nursing home or outside your Part D plan's geographic area.

Check here to see if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

You will receive a notice verifying that your application has been received, or you can print one from the computer if you enroll online. Keep this at least until you receive a wallet card proving you are enrolled in your prescription drug plan. You will have to show that to your pharmacist when you fill your prescriptions.

Rules for enrolling

It is important to pay attention to the rules for enrolling or switching prescription drug plans because they are very limited for most people. All prescription drug plans must notify their enrollees in October of the changes to the costs or formularies they plan to make for the next year. So it is very important to review your drug plan every year and switch if you need to. All changes to the drug plans take effect on January 1 when it is too late for most people to switch.

This overview is intended as a basic introduction to Medicare prescription drug plans, and is not intended to provide you with everything you may need to make decisions about planning for your prescription drug needs. All of the resources listed here are available to help you free of cost. Read through the descriptions of each resource before taking your next steps.

Medicare Rights Center

Medicare Rights Center (MRC) is the largest independent source of health care information and assistance in the United States for people with Medicare, and a collaborative partner of the National MS Society.

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Medicare is a government entitlement program administered by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Visit Medicare’s official website.

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