What Changes Can You Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?
The changes you can make include:
- Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Dropping a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Changing from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare
- Changing from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Changing from a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to one without
- Changing from a Medicare Advantage plan without drug coverage to one that includes it
Changes made to your coverage during the Medicare annual enrollment period take effect on January 1st the following year.
Can You Begin Medicare Coverage During the Annual Enrollment Period?
The Medicare annual enrollment period is not the time to sign up for Medicare for the first time. You can sign up during your initial enrollment period — the month of your 65th birthday as well as three months before and three months after, for a total of seven months. If for some reason, you did not sign up for coverage during your initial enrollment period, you must wait until the general enrollment period that begins on January 1st and lasts until March 31st to enroll in Medicare for the first time. Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for a special enrollment period, the only other time you can start Medicare outside the initial enrollment period.
How Do You Know If Your Medicare Coverage Is Changing?
Look for information that Medicare sends you in the mail. If your coverage is changing, you should receive a document called an “Annual Notice of Change.” You may also receive a document called “Evidence of Coverage.” When you receive these documents, examine them carefully to determine whether your current plan will continue to meet your needs when coverage renews in January. You should receive the information in October, giving you ample time to review plan information and make changes before the Medicare annual enrollment period ends in December.
What If You Do Not Want To Make Any Changes?
If you are still satisfied with your plan, there is nothing you have to do during the Medicare annual enrollment period. Your coverage will renew automatically on January 1st.
Do You Have To Wait for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period To Make Changes?
Generally speaking, you can only make changes to your Medicare coverage during the yearly enrollment period. However, if you already are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you are allowed to make one coverage change during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from January 1st to March 31st. One change you can make is to switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, though the reverse is not true.
Emerald Insurance can help you understand your Medicare coverage and eligibility. Contact us with any questions you have about the Medicare annual enrollment period.