Medicare open enrollment – also known as Medicare’s annual election period – runs from October 15th through December 7th each year. During this open enrollment period those with Medicare and Medicare Advantage can make changes to their Medicare health plans or their prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. All changes made during the open enrollment period will be effective January 1st. There are some special circumstances in which Medicare recipients can change coverage at anytime such as nursing home residents, but for many people, the Open Enrollment Period is the only time that changes can be made.
During the Medicare open enrollment period, you can, for example:
- Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (plus a Medicare Part D plan, and possibly a Medigap plan).
- Switch from one Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another.
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you didn’t enroll when you were first eligible for Medicare. If you haven’t maintained other creditable coverage, a late-enrollment penalty may apply.
How do people know if they need to make changes?
Medicare health and drug plans can make changes to their coverage each year. They can make changes to cost, coverage, and the providers or pharmacies that are in network with their plan. People in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for the following year. If they’re satisfied that their current plans will meet their needs for next year and it’s still being offered, they don’t need to do anything.
You can find Medicare plan information or compare plans or request assistance by contacting the local SHIIP (Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program) Counselor at 712.265.2509, by contacting Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or online at Medicare.gov.