Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period runs from Oct. 15 to Dec.7 every year.
During Open Enrollment, you can join or switch a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
Since Medicare plans change each year, it’s a good idea to make sure your coverage still meets your needs and budget.
Can I change my Medicare plan at any time? Should I switch Medicare plans? When can you enroll in or change Medicare plans?
These are common questions among older adults who have Medicare. If you’re thinking about making a change to your coverage, you’ll want to mark Oct. 15 - Dec. 7 on your calendar. This is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
What is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?
It's an annual timeframe when all people with Medicare can re-evaluate, add, drop, or switch their Medicare health plan. This is a great opportunity to compare your plan to others on the market and find one that better suits your needs and budget.
When is the Open Enrollment Period?
If you’re using the Open Enrollment period to choose a new Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Part D plan, that new coverage will begin on Jan. 1 of the coming year. For example, if you enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan in November of 2023, your coverage will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
During Medicare Open Enrollment, the following can happen:
- If you have (or are signing up for) Medicare Parts A or B, you can join or drop a Part D prescription drug plan.
- If you have original Medicare (Parts A & B), you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- If you have Medicare Advantage, you can drop it and switch back to original Medicare (Parts A & B).
- If you have Medicare Advantage, you can switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan.
- If you have a Part D prescription drug plan, you can switch to a new Part D prescription drug plan.
Why you should re-evaluate your Medicare coverage during Open Enrollment
Each year, insurance companies may make changes to Medicare plans that can impact your out-of-pocket costs. These changes can inclue monthly premiums, deductibles, drug costs, and provider or pharmacy “networks" (a network is a list of doctors, hospitals, or pharmacies that negotiate prices with insurers). These changes may also affect a plan’s “formulary” (list of covered drugs).
Are Medicare Advantage plans worth it? This is something only you can decide. Given these yearly changes, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your current Medicare plan each year to make sure it provides the coverage you need at a cost you can afford.
Below are some additional benefits of re-evaluating coverage during Open Enrollment:
- Switching to a prescription drug plan that better meets your individual needs can reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
- 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 for the upcoming calendar year.
- During Medicare's Open Enrollment period, you may be able to switch to a more comprehensive plan at a price similar to what you’re already paying.
What should I do next? Start comparing Medicare plans and learn more about your coverage options
If you’re wondering, Which type of care is not covered by Medicare? or Does Medicare pay for prescriptions?, we’re here to guide you.
NCOA provides you with Medicare broker options that can help you find the plan that’s best for you. And it costs you absolutely nothing. Get connected today with an unbiased expert who can walk you through your options.
Once you choose a Medicare plan that meets your needs, don’t forget to let your physician and other health care providers know about your new coverage.
Want to learn more about Medicare coverage and costs? Visit our Medicare for Older Adults resource library.