The Medicare Enrollment Period
What Is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
Every year, the insurance companies that handle Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plans can make changes to their policies, which can affect coverage, cost, and the providers and pharmacies are in their networks. People enrolled in these plans will receive materials that inform them about these annual changes.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is a roughly 53-day period during which people can make changes to their Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage plans.
When Does the Medicare Open Enrollment Period Take Place?
In 2011, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period was changed to October 15 to December 7. It should take place at this time during every year for the foreseeable future.
How Does Medicare Open Enrollment Work?
You can make a variety of changes to your Medicare coverage during the Open Enrollment Period, such as:
- Switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, or vice versa.
- Enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage plan
- Enrolling in a new Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage plan
- If you did not enroll in a Prescription Drug Coverage Plan when you were first eligible, you can sign up during the Open Enrollment Period. A late enrollment penalty may apply.
What If I Don’t Want to Make Any Changes to My Medicare Coverage?
If you are content with your Medicare coverage for the upcoming year, then you can relax! If you do nothing, your plan will automatically renew. If your plan is being discontinued, however, then you will receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier and will need to change your coverage regardless of your initial preferences.
What If I Miss the Deadline for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
Did you miss the Open Enrollment Period this year? You still have the opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage plan or enroll in Original Medicare from January 1 to March 31.
Changing Your Medicare Advantage Coverage
If you miss the fall enrollment period deadline, or if you decide that the plan you chose during the Open Enrollment Period is a poor fit after all, then you can change your Medicare Advantage plan once during the first quarter of the year. You have the opportunity to:
- Return to Original Medicare and buy a Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage plan
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan (starting 2019)
Enrolling in Original Medicare
If you did not enroll in Part A or Part B during the Open Enrollment Period or when you were first eligible, then you can sign up during the above period, and your coverage will begin on July 1. You may face a late enrollment penalty, however, such as paying 10 percent of the Part B premium for every 12 month period when you were eligible but not yet enrolled.
Want to Learn More About the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
Figuring out Medicare can be just as confusing as learning a new language, so let us be your translator. At My Medigap Plans, we will help you to understand all of your options and make the best decisions for your lifestyle. Call us today!