What if I Missed My Initial Enrollment Period?

Published by: Medicare Made Clear

The first time most people can enroll in Medicare is during their Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This 7-month period begins three months before the month in which you turn 65 and ends three months after. But, what if you miss your IEP? What happens?


Some people continue to work past 65 with employer health coverage and may be able to delay Medicare enrollment. If you’re planning to work past 65, and would like to see if you may qualify to delay Medicare, please find additional information here.

What Happens When You Miss Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period?


If you miss your IEP for Medicare enrollment, you can still enroll. You will enroll during what is known as the Medicare General Enrollment Period.


The General Enrollment Period happens every year, January 1 – March 31. During this time, you will enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. Your coverage will begin on July 1 of the same year.


You may also be eligible to next enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or Part D prescription drug plan between April 1 and June 30 of the same year.  If you want a Medicare Advantage plan, you will need to enroll in both Parts A and B first.

Enrolling in Medicare Late May Mean Late Penalties


Now, here’s the downside to enrolling after your Initial Enrollment Period. Depending on your situation (example: if you have creditable coverage that qualified you to delay or not), you may have to pay late enrollment penalties for Medicare Part A, Part B and/or Part D.


You can read about all Medicare late enrollment penalties here.


Again, whether or not you pay Medicare late enrollment penalties will depend on your unique situation.

Learn More About How to Enroll


Find out how to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug plan.

Medicare Made Clear

Get to Know Medicare

Medicare Made Clear is brought to you by UnitedHealthcare to help make understanding Medicare easier. Click here to take advantage of more helpful tools and resources from Medicare Made Clear including downloadable worksheets and guides.

Medicare Made Clear


Whether you're just starting out with Medicare, need to brush up on the facts, or are helping a loved one, start your journey here.


Introduction to Medicare 

Get the Latest


Boost your Medicare know-how with reliable, up-to-date news and information delivered to your inbox every month.

Sign up now

Related Articles

Explore More Medicare Topics

Find a Plan

Call Us

Call UnitedHealthcare at FED TFN, TTY 711 (toll-free)


Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

7 days a week

Call UnitedHealthcare at MEDSUPP TFN, TTY 711 (toll-free)



7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET,

Monday – Friday

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Saturday

Meet with Us

Make an appointment with a licensed insurance agent/producer in your area