Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY



When Should I Enroll?


If you are turning 65 within the next year, it is time to think about Medicare. View the details below and start planning.


Automatic enrollment in Parts A and B

If you already receive Social Security benefits, have Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or are under 65 and have been receiving disability benefits for 24 months, you should be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. If you’re automatically enrolled, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail three months before your 65th birthday.


To enroll in a Medicare plan

If you need to sign up for Parts A and B, you must do so during your initial enrollment period. This is also the time for you to sign up for a Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and/or Part D prescription drug plan. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday. You have a total of seven months to enroll, which includes your birthday month and the three months after. It's a good idea to start planning ahead of time to avoid possible penalties for late enrollment. 

If you enroll...

Your Medicare Advantage plan will start...

EXAMPLE: Your birthday is June 7

1-3 months before your birthday month


The first day of your birthday month



If you enroll in March, April, or May--coverage will start June 1


Your birthday month


The first day of the month following your birthday month


If you enroll in June --coverage will start July 1


3 months after your birthday month


The first day of the month that follows your enrollment.



If you enroll in July --coverage will start August 1



What happens if you miss your enrollment period?

Plan ahead so you don't end up in this situation. Learn about possible penalties and late enrollment options for each plan below.


Original Medicare - Parts A and B

If you don’t enroll in Part A and B, when you’re first eligible, you can sign up during the General Enrollment Period, between January 1 and March 31 each year. If you do this, your Original Medicare coverage will start July 1. Please note, you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible. You'll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Part B and could have a gap in your health coverage.


Medicare Advantage plans - Part C

If you do not enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during your initial enrollment period, you will have to wait until the annual enrollment period at the end of the year.


Stand-alone Part D plans

If you don’t choose a Medicare Part D plan when you become eligible, and don’t have other creditable drug coverage, there may be a penalty for every month you don’t enroll. So, it may be a good idea to enroll even if you don’t use many prescription drugs.

Medigap plans

You’re guaranteed to be accepted for a Medigap plan within six months of your Part B effective date, so the best time to enroll in a plan is when you’re first eligible.


>>Learn more on our Medicare Basics page

Now that you understand when to enroll, here's what's next:


What will happen to my dependents that aren't eligible for Medicare?

* This page contains non-Medicare information



This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or copayments/coinsurance may change January 1 of each year. The Formulary, pharmacy network, and/or provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B Premium.

Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York members, except in emergency situations. For a decision about whether we will cover an out-of-network service, we encourage you or your provider to ask us for a pre-service organization determination before you receive the service. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services. 

Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a Medicare Advantage plan with a Medicare contract and enrollment depends on contract renewal.

Y0086_MRK1789 Approved
Content Last Updated March 17, 2017