Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period Begins October 15 and ends December 17.
During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can change their drug plan or Advantage plan for the next calendar year.
Supplemental Medigap plans, which have federally standardized benefits that don’t change from year to year, are not included in the fall enrollment.
Medicare Advantage Plans: Medicare Advantage Plans replace Original Medicare with HMO- or PPOlike plans. Because these plans are allowed to refile with Medicare each year, benefits and premiums can change from year to year.
Shortly before open enrollment begins, Advantage policy holders should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) from their provider. They should review the document carefully for changes to coverage, costs, or service area. Policy holders should also check to see if their preferred doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, or other providers are still in their plan. During Open Enrollment, beneficiaries may: change from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa,* or switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
Part D Plans:
The company that provides a beneficiary’s current drug coverage will also send an ANOC, so beneficiaries can ensure all their medications are still covered by the plan. During Open Enrollment, beneficiaries may switch to a different Part D plan or enroll in Part D if they didn’t sign up during their general open enrollment period (a late enrollment fee may apply).
Also before Open Enrollment begins, insurers will provide an Evidence of Coverage (EOC), a comprehensive document explaining how the plan works and describing benefits, cost-sharing expenses, and what the plan pays. In addition to reviewing the ANOC or EOC, it is wise to compare other plans each year to see if another plan has become a better fit. The Medicare Plan Finder at medicare.gov/plan-compare/ is a convenient tool to use.
Health care decisions can be complicated. If you need help evaluating your options or determining how health care costs may impact your retirement, please call our office.
*NOTE: A beneficiary who drops an Advantage plan to return to Original Medicare may be subject to underwriting if they want to add a Medigap plan once they are past their original enrollment window or have been enrolled in Medicare Advantage for more than a year.