- medicareresources.org Editor
- September 15, 2017
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.
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:
- You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
- You must live in the plan’s service area (note that there are some rural areas of the country where there are no Medicare Advantage plans available).
- You cannot have End-Stage Renal Disease (some exceptions apply).
Any changes you make during open enrollment will take effect January 1.
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.
- 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?
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