From Bob Irish in Retirement Insider: Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) is just seven months long. (The three months before your birthday month, your birthday month, and the three months after.) And if you make the wrong choices when you enroll, you could face late penalties that never go away.

In the three months prior to your 65th birthday, you will receive countless solicitations offering guidance on Medicare enrollment. Ignore them. If you respond, you’ll be getting “help” from a commissioned salesperson with one objective: to sell you on their program, regardless of whether it truly meets your needs.

Instead, you can call Medicare’s toll-free help line at 800-633-4227 for some unbiased help. You might also consider calling your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free counseling concerning your enrollment options (there are four basic parts of Medicare to potentially enroll in).

You can find your state’s SHIP here. And to see what your potential penalties might be for late enrollment in Part B or Part D, go to the Medicare penalty calculator here.

To explore the details of Medicare Parts A through D, review the February issue of Retirement Insider—a bonus subscription for all Gold-level (and above) subscribers of The Palm Beach Letter and Mega Trends Investing.