Medicare Annual Open Enrollment: What Does it Mean?

Medicare Open Enrollment

by Loretta Hartzell 

I find that many people on Medicare have questions about the Annual Open Enrollment Period which begins each year from October 15th thru December 7th. During this period a Medicare beneficiary can add, change or drop their Medicare Advantage plan and/or Prescription Drug plan for the following year. Changes will be effective on January 1.

If you are happy with your Medicare Advantage and/or Prescription Drug plan you don’t need to do anything. However plan details change annually so it is a good idea to review your current plan. Your carrier will be mailing you the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) in late September. During the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15th to December 7th these are the changes you can make and they will be effective on January 1st.

  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). By going back to Original Medicare you need to know that Part B (Medical Coverage) will only cover 80% of your bill therefore you may want to consider a Medicare Supplement plan (also known as a Medigap policy) to cover the other 20%. In addition you will need to enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan.
  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MAPD) that does offer drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MAPD) to a Medicare Advantage (MA) that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage.
  • Change form one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug plan completely. If you make this change and in the future reenroll in a Medicare prescription plan you will incur a penalty.

dec1If you have a Medicare Supplement plan (Medigap policy) and are happy with that coverage there is nothing you need to do during this period of time. However as mentioned above you probably have a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and you should review that plan to insure that is it providing you with the best coverage for the following year.