Medicare Open Enrollment
If you’re new to Medicare or want to switch plans, you might be wondering when is Medicare open enrollment. Medicare open enrollment 2019 starts October 15 and goes until December 7, 2019, for 2020 coverage. During the annual enrollment period (AEP), you can make the following changes:
- Switch to Medicare Advantage from Original Medicare, or vice versa
- Switch from one Medicare Part D (prescriptions) plan to another or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you didn’t enroll when you were first eligible, but late enrollment may come with a penalty
To be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B
- Live in the service area of your plan
- End-Stage Renal Disease patients are not eligible, except under certain circumstances. However, ESRD patients will be able to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans starting in 2021.
Will My Plan Auto-Renew?
If you already have a Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan in place and don’t want to make any changes, there’s nothing you need to do during open enrollment unless your current plan is being discontinued. If your plan is no longer available, you’ll receive a non-renewal notice from your carrier before open enrollment begins. If you don’t receive a notice, then you can stay on the same plan without any action during this time period.
You should be aware that your premium and benefits may change from one year to the next. If you’re confident that you want to keep your current plan for the following year, it’s still imperative that you understand any changes that are being made and that it’s still the best plan for your circumstances. Available plans and what they cover change every year, so researching new plans is important before locking your insurance in for another year.
Medicare Advantage Coverage Can Be Changed After the Annual Enrollment Period
If you have the Medicare Advantage plan and want to return to Original Medicare and buy a part D plan to supplement it, you can do so between January 1 and March 31 each year. As of this year, you can also switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another during this time. The 21st Century Cures Act gave people an additional timeframe in which to switch Medicare Advantage plans. However, while you can switch multiple times before deciding in the fall enrollment period, you can only switch once at the beginning of the year. If you sign up for a plan in the fall and decide you don’t like it once it takes effect in January, you do have three months to make a switch.
Reviewing the information sent to you by your carrier to look for possible changes is important. For example, plans may increase co-pays, change treatment coverage, or change drug formularies. Once open enrollment starts, you’ll have a chance to change your coverage. You can find the information you need at medicare.gov. If you need help, call Medicare Help USA at 1-855-872-4550 or contact us online. We’ll help you understand Medicare Part E, Medicare Part F, and all of the rules that go with them.