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When is the deadline? What happens if you miss it? 

You can join a Medicare drug plan from three months before you turn 65 to three months after you turn 65. Generally, if you are disabled, you can join three months before and three months after your 25th month of disability.

If you miss these deadlines, you may face a late-enrollment penalty.

Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, 2011, anyone can join, switch, or drop a Medicare drug plan. In most cases, this is the only time you will have each year to change your health and insurance plans. The coverage change will take place Jan. 1, 2012, as long as the plan gets your request by Dec. 7, 2011.

Enrollment dates may change from year to year. Medicare suggests you start by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) in September of each year to find the enrollment dates for the upcoming year.

For more information, visit the Medicare website, or call 800-MEDICARE. TTY users should call 877-486-2048. To speed up your service, have your Medicare number available when you call.

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