Medicare Open Enrollment period begins each year and runs from October 15 and runs through December 7th, .

During this time, you can make changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D Prescription Drug coverage.  This period is referred to as the Annual Election Period (AEP).

Medicare Open Enrollment informationDuring this 7-week period, you can also switch back to original Medicare, from Medicare Advantage or go from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.  You can make as many plan changes as you want during this period. The plan that you are with at 11:59pm on December 7th, is the plan you will start on January 1st.

If you want to join a Medicare Advantage plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and B.  You must also live in the plan’s service area.  Generally speaking, if you have ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) you cannot enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you would like to enroll in a Part D drug plan only, you need to be on Part A OR  Part B.  You do not need both.

If you are happy with your current coverage and do not want to change your Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription drug plan, you do not have to. Your plan will automatically renew and you don’t have to do anything.

This being said, you need to be diligent about the following if you are thinking of not changing:

*Pay attention to the network.  Some plans will add doctors while dropping some. Make sure all the doctors you want to continue to see are still “in-network” and are accepting your coverage. You do not want to find out on January 1st, that your doctors do not accept your coverage.  In this scenario, if you have an HMO, you’re out of luck. If you have a PPO, and your doctor is “out-of-network” and they are willing to see you, it will cost you a higher co pay.

*Formulary changes.  Pay close attention to any formulary changes to your plan. For example, some plans may stop covering a specific drug or may change its tier from a lower to a higher one, thereby increasing your cost. In some cases, a plan may stop covering a specific drug altogether.  That would become an off-formulary medication and could be quite expensive. Once again, you don’t want to find this out after the open enrollment period is over.  It could be too late

When determining your Part D stand-alone prescription drug plan coverage for the upcoming year, it’s important to review all your medications and make sure they are still being covered and are still being covered at an affordable price.

In the period leading to up to AEP, you should receive notice from your current Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans on any changes. If for your plan is being discontinued, you will be notified, as well.  You should receive this information on or before September 30th.

Medicare Supplements do not adhere to enrollment periods. You can sign up for 12 months out of the year.  The rules are different for this type of coverage.

Annual Disenrollment Period

This period has been around for the past few years. ADP runs from January 1st through February 14th.  This period was created to allow folks to disenroll from there Medicare Advantage plan and go back to original Medicare. This is generally done by purchasing a stand-alone Part D drug plan (you are not allowed to have a Medicare Advantage plan and a Part D drug plan at the same time) By purchasing a stand-alone drug plan, you will be terminated from your MAPD plan and this will put you back on original Medicare.

Most people do this if they realize they made a mistake on their coverage during the open enrollment period and selected the wrong type of coverage. Because of this period, people do not have to wait a whole year to change, if they made the wrong plan selection during AEP.

If you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan from January 1st though January 31st, you will be back on original Medicare on February 1st.  If you disenroll from your MAPD from February 1st though February 14th, you will be back on original Medicare on March 1st.

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