Medicare Fall Open Enrollment
The Open Enrollment Period for both Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage happens annually from October 15 to December 7. This period is also known as Medicare Fall Open Enrollment and the Annual Election Period. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can add, change, or drop Medicare health plans and/or prescription drug coverage for the following year (effective January 1).
If you’re satisfied with your current Medicare plan, you don’t need to take any action. However, plan details can change annually, so you may want to compare your plan options for each to confirm your health and prescription drug needs are covered by your plan for the next year. The Medicare Fall Open Enrollment period is a good time for beneficiaries to reassess their current Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan coverage and compare it with the options available in the upcoming year.
Medicare Fall Open Enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans
Interested in signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan? There are certain times when you can enroll, and one of them is during Fall Open Enrollment for Medicare (October 15 – December 7).
You must be already enrolled in Part A and Part B, and live within the service area of the plan you’re enrolling in.
Besides enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can make other changes throughout the Medicare Fall Open Enrollment period, such as:
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B).
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan to a Medicare Advantage that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage.
Fall Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)
If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and/or Part B), you can enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan during the Medicare Fall Open Enrollment period, which is the same time period described above (October 15 through December 7 every year). You need to live within the service area of the plan. You can make other coverage changes, such as:
- Switch from one Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan to another.
- Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.
If you decide to drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage, be aware that if you go without this coverage for 63 days in a row or longer, you could face a Medicare Part D late-enrollment penalty if you decide to enroll again at a later date.
What to do if you miss Medicare Fall Open Enrollment
If you have missed the Fall Open Enrollment period for Medicare, and you’re truly dissatisfied with your Medicare Advantage plan, there is a Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, which lasts from January 1 to February 14 every year. During this period, you cannot switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, but you may go back to Original Medicare. If you return to Part A and Part B coverage, you can usually enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. Keep in mind that this enrollment period is only for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
In certain situations, you may qualify for a Special Election Period (SEP) to make changes to your Medicare Advantage and/or prescription drug coverage outside of Medicare Fall Open Enrollment. These situations usually involve loss of or changes in coverage, such as a Medicare Advantage plan losing its contract with Medicare, or your moving outside your current plan’s service area.
This website and its contents are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.