Medicare Glossary

Definitions for common Medicare terms

annual election period

DEFINITION: Medicare’s annual election period – also known as Medicare open enrollment – is the annual period during which Medicare plan enrollees can reevaluate their coverage and make changes.

During open enrollment, a beneficiary can switch Medicare Advantage plans, switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare or from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, switch from one Part D plan to another or drop Medicare Part D coverage entirely.

Open enrollment does not apply to Medigap coverage, however.

The enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, and changes you make during that time are effective January 1.