Open Enrollment is from October 15th through December 7th every year. If using the Open Enrollment period to choose a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, that new coverage will begin on January 1.
When is the Open Enrollment Period?
Open Enrollment Explained
The Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is an annual period (October 15 through December 7) when current Medicare users can choose to re-evaluate part of their Medicare coverage (their Medicare Advantage/Part C and/or Part D plan) and compare it against all the other plans on the market. People can choose to add, drop or switch a Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plans.
To get a better understanding of OED try taking the Medicare assessment, which provides free professional advice about Medicare from a licensed advisor who meets the NCOA's Standards of Excellence.
During the OEP the following can occur:
- Anyone who has (or is signing up for) Medicare Parts A or B can join or drop a Part D prescription drug plan.
- Anyone with Original Medicare (Parts A & B) can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Anyone with Medicare Advantage can drop it and switch back to just Original Medicare (Parts A & B).
- Anyone with Medicare Advantage can switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan.
- Anyone with a Part D prescription drug plan can switch to a new Part D prescription drug plan.
Re-evaluating Medicare Coverage During Open Enrollment
Each year, insurance companies can make changes to Medicare plans that can impact out-of-pocket costs— monthly premiums, deductibles, drug costs, and provider or pharmacy “networks.” A network is a list of doctors, hospitals, or pharmacies that negotiate prices with insurance companies. They can also make changes to plan’s “formulary” (list of covered drugs).
Given these yearly changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your current Medicare plan each year to make sure it still meets your needs. Below are some additional benefits of re-evaluating coverage during Open Enrollment:
- Switching to a prescipription drug plan that better meets your individual needs can reduce out of pocket costs.
- Evaluate your plan to make sure that your doctor(s) remain in-network in the upcoming calendar year. If your doctor is no longer considered in-network, you will likely save money by switching plans to make sure your doctors remain in-network.
- Find a higher quality plan. Plans with a 5-star rating are considered high quality. If you are enrolled in a plan that is less than 3-stars, consider using OEP to switch.
Next Steps: Comparing Medicare Coverage
- Take our Questionnaire and get free professional counseling by a licensed benefits advisor from one of our trusted partners that meet NCOA's Standards of Excellence.
- Get connected with an unbiased expert who can walk you through your options.
Once a plan is chosen that fits your needs, you will need to inform your physician and other health care providers of the new coverage.