Table of Contents:

  1. Annual Enrollment Period
  2. Original Medicare General Enrollment Period
  3. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Selecting a Medicare plan doesn’t always mean you’re stuck with it. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans review their options and elect to make a change. Some are hoping to broaden their provider network or gain access to a new medication. Others have seen their out-of-pocket costs become unmanageable due to new healthcare needs.

Whatever their reasoning, most beneficiaries have several opportunities throughout the year to change their Medicare coverage.

Annual Enrollment Period

This window is open from October 15th to December 7th each year. During this timeframe, Medicare beneficiaries can make the following changes:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Select a Medicare Part D plan for the first time (a late enrollment penalty may apply)
  • Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Drop Medicare Part D coverage

Beneficiaries can make as many changes as they like during this period. The changes will go into effect on January 1st of the following year.

Original Medicare General Enrollment Period

Some Americans neglect to enroll in one or both parts of Original Medicare when they first become eligible. Many opt out because they are still eligible for coverage through their employer or because they’re not yet eligible for premium-free Part A coverage. These beneficiaries have the option to enroll in one or both parts during a unique general enrollment period that runs from January 1st to March 31st each year.

Beneficiaries could face a late enrollment penalty if they opt into Part A and/or Part B after they initially become eligible. Changes made during this period will go into effect on July 1st.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Medicare Advantage enrollees have access to an additional enrollment period. This period runs from January 1st to March 31st and enables beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans to make the following coverage changes:

  • Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (with or without a stand-alone Part D plan)
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

Beneficiaries can only make one switch during this period. Changes will go into effect on Day 1 of the following month.

 

Information adapted from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services