Parts C & D
You must have Medicare Parts A and B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C). You must have Part A or B to get Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). (In most cases, if you have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can’t join a Medicare Advantage Plan.)
There are specific times when you can sign up for Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), or make changes to coverage you already have:
1. When you first become eligible for Medicare.
2. Between October 15–December 7 each year.
3. Under certain circumstances that qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period, such as the following:
• You move.
• You’re eligible for Medicaid.
• You qualify for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs.
• You’re getting care in an institution, such as a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital.
Important: To avoid paying a Part D late enrollment penalty, you’ll need to sign up for Part D when you first become eligible for Medicare or you’ll need to show proof of creditable drug coverage if you join the plan later. Creditable prescription drug coverage is coverage that’s expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage. Your current employer health plan tells you each year if your drug coverage is creditable coverage.