If you’re new to Medicare, you may be familiar with the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), an election period that covers from 3 months before your 65th birthday to 3 months after. However, if you chose not to sign up for Part B during your IEP, there is another enrollment period available to you, known as Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP). But what exactly is it? When can you use it? And how does it differ from IEP?
ICEP is the period in which you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time. This period begins three months before you are enrolled in both Medicare Part A & B and it ends the last day of the month before you are enrolled in both Part A & B or the last day of your Part B enrollment period, whichever comes later.
If you enroll in Medicare Part A & B when you turn 65, then your ICEP will run concurrently with your IEP and will not be needed. If you choose not to enroll in Part B when you turn 65, perhaps because you still have employer coverage, that is when it becomes important to know when you will be eligible to enroll later. I can understand how this might be confusing. So, to help understand, here are a few example birthdays:
You turn 65 on March 15th so your IEP runs from December 1st to June 30th. Your IEP begins December 1st (three months before the month you turn 65) and ends June 30th (three months after the month you turn 65). Your ICEP also runs from December 1st to June 30th.
You turn 65 on March 15th. Your IEP runs from December 1st to June 30th. However, you choose to not enroll in Medicare Part B during this time. You later enroll in Medicare Part B during the general enrollment period and your Medicare Part B is set to take effect on July 1st. In this situation, your ICEP would run from April 1st through June 30th (the three months before your Part B coverages is scheduled to take effect).
If you are just looking to calculate your own ICEP, CMS has provided a Medicare Advantage ICEP calculation tool for guidance.
On the other hand, when it comes to enrollment, all carriers format their attestation pages differently. There may or may not be an option to select ICEP when selecting the applicable election period. When in doubt, you can always reach out to us for assistance in applying for any Medicare plan.