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Medicare’s annual open enrollment is underway

Until December 7, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage, including switching to a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan

How you can change your Medicare coverage:

Open enrollment is 54 days long

Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D coverage begins October 15, and will continue until December 7. During this annual enrollment period (AEP), there are several changes you can make:

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

Enrollment criteria

If you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during open enrollment, you can do so as long as you meet some basic criteria:

Changes will be effective January 1

Any changes you make during open enrollment will take effect January 1.

Other opportunities to change your coverage

After open enrollment ends, there will still be some opportunities to make changes, although they’re more restricted:

  • Starting December 8 – and through November 30 – you can actually switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan – if you enroll in a plan in your area that has earned the government’s five-star (excellent) rating. CMS announced the star ratings for 2018 plans in October 2017 (list available here)
  • You can apply for a Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) plan at any time during the year. If you’re within the six-month open enrollment window that begins when you turn 65, the coverage is guaranteed issue. That is also the case if you’re in a special enrollment period triggered by a qualifying event.
  • You can still apply for a Medigap plan outside of open/special enrollment periods – though carriers will use medical underwriting to determine whether to accept your application, and how much to charge you.
  • There are several ways to leave Medicare Advantage, including the annual Medicare Advantage disenrollment period – which runs from January 1 to February 14 each year.

For a thorough overview of the changes you can make to your coverage, read How do I change my Medicare coverage?

Knowing your coverage options is critical

How well do you understand Medicare’s coverage options? Take our new Medicare Smarts Quiz to see if you are ready to shop for new coverage.

Ready or not, you can always learn more right here. The articles on this site are authored by a team of veteran healthcare writers who know the health insurance industry, understand the political battles over healthcare – and, most importantly, who know the needs of consumers.

In these pages, you can tap into an extensive collection of resources, including:

We hope you’ll find the answers to all your burning questions. If you can’t, please don’t hesitate to send us your questions.