Medicare Open Enrollment Period: What to Know and How to Make Changes
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is a time each year when people with Medicare can make changes to their coverage. This includes choosing a new Medicare Advantage plan, changing Medicare drug plans, or dropping one or both types of coverage altogether. The Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.
Why is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period important?
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is important because it is the only time of year when people with Medicare can make certain changes to their coverage without having to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Special Enrollment Periods are available for certain life events, such as moving to a new area or losing other health insurance coverage, but they can be more difficult to qualify for.
During the Open Enrollment Period, you can make the following changes to your Medicare coverage:
- Switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan: Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and provide an alternative to traditional Medicare. They typically offer more comprehensive coverage, including dental and vision care, but they may also have higher premiums and copays.
- Change your Medicare drug plan: Medicare drug plans are also offered by private insurance companies and provide coverage for prescription drugs. You can choose a new Medicare drug plan during the Open Enrollment Period, or you can switch to a different plan within your current company.
- Drop or add Medicare Part B: Medicare Part B covers doctor’s visits, outpatient care, and some medical supplies. You can drop Medicare Part B during the Open Enrollment Period, but you will need to pay a penalty if you decide to reenroll later. You can also add Medicare Part B during the Open Enrollment Period if you did not enroll when you first became eligible.
To make changes to your Medicare coverage during the Open Enrollment Period, you can:
- Contact your Medicare plan provider directly: Your Medicare plan provider can help you understand your options and make the necessary changes to your coverage.
- Use the Medicare Plan Finder tool: The Medicare Plan Finder tool is an online tool that can help you compare Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare drug plans. You can also use the tool to enroll in a new plan.
- Call the Medicare hotline: You can call the Medicare hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get help with making changes to your Medicare coverage.
Here are some tips for making the most of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period:
- Review your current coverage: Before you make any changes to your Medicare coverage, it is important to review your current coverage and make sure that you understand what you are covered for. You can review your coverage on the Medicare website or by contacting your Medicare plan provider.
- Compare your options: Once you have a good understanding of your current coverage, you can start comparing other options. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder tool or call the Medicare hotline to get help comparing plans.
- Ask questions: If you have any questions about your Medicare coverage or the Open Enrollment Period, do not hesitate to ask questions. You can contact your Medicare plan provider, use the Medicare Plan Finder tool, or call the Medicare hotline.
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period is an important time for people with Medicare to review their coverage and make changes if needed. By following the tips above, you can make the most of the Open Enrollment Period and choose the coverage that is right for you.