If you’re hoping to make a change to your Medicare coverage, you may have to wait until Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for the opportunity to switch plans. Open Enrollment occurs every year, from October 15 through December 7. During this time, Medicare recipients can search through Medicare options, compare plans and enroll. New coverage will begin on January 1.
What exactly can you do during Open Enrollment?
Switch from one MA plan to another
During OEP, Medicare recipients who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, with or without prescription drug coverage, can move to another MA plan, with or without prescription drug coverage. MA plans, although regulated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are provided by private insurance companies, so costs and coverage can vary among plans.
Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (Part C)
If you get your Part A and Part B benefits through Original Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. All MA plans are required to include the same benefits as Parts A and B, but many plans include additional benefits for little to no additional cost. These extra benefits may include vision care, routine dental check-ups, hearing exams, hearing aids, gym memberships, prescription drug coverage, and more.
If you’ve had Original Medicare and a Prescription Drug Plan, you can drop that coverage and enroll in an MA plan that includes prescription drug coverage.
Switch Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)
If you have Original Medicare and have enrolled in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), you can switch to another plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. Why switch plans? If your needs for prescription medications has changed over the past year, you may need to find a plan that covers your required medications in the plan’s formulary. You may also find that another PDP offers the same medications you need for a lower copayment. PDPs are offered by private insurance companies and costs and benefits vary.
Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and revert back to Original Medicare
If you’re unsatisfied with your MA plan and choose to revert back to Original Medicare, you may do so during Open Enrollment. At this time, you may also enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP).
Exploring your Medicare plan options during OEP
If you’re considering making a change, review your plan’s Evidence of Coverage in September when you receive it in the mail. If your plan will continue to meet your needs, you don’t have to make any changes. On the other hand, if you would like to compare your current coverage to other plans available in your area, take advantage of online plan comparison tools. These tools are free to use and may be able to help you narrow down your options. If you have questions along the way, don’t hesitate to speak to a licensed sales agent. These knowledgeable Medicare benefits advisors may be able to help you find a plan that’s right for you – and may even help you enroll online or by telephone.