Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is an extra time each year when you can make one (yes, just one) change to your existing Medicare Advantage plan. These changes include:
- Moving to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Dropping your Medicare Advantage plan and staying with Original Medicare. If you do this and need drug coverage, you have until March 31 to add a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan
When is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is January 1 to March 31. During the open enrollment period, you cannot add a Medicare Advantage plan if you do not have one already. You also cannot make changes to an existing prescription drug plan. The window where you can add Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period or Annual Election Period, from October 15 to December 7 each year.
Remember, you need to be enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) before you’re eligible to sign up for any Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. If you do not yet have Original Medicare, check out your Medicare Enrollment options so you know when and how to sign up. If you’re turning 65 soon, it’s smart to start researching your coverage options now.
Understanding Medicare Advantage plans
If you are new to Medicare, you might be wondering what a Medicare Advantage plan is and how you get one. These plans are a great option if you need some coverage beyond what Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) offers.
For example, you might want dental, vision and hearing insurance. Or maybe you have regular medications and need prescription drug coverage, which you can’t get through Original Medicare. Knowing how the two options compare helps you get the most out of your coverage, so take a moment to see how Original Medicare differs from Medicare Advantage.
After you sign up for Original Medicare, you have a few windows of time where you can add, change or drop a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. These only apply if you want to make changes to your coverage. If you have a plan you are happy with, you can simply keep it without re-enrolling.
If you are moving or your plan’s service area changes, a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) accounts for these types of exceptions (and others). Our Medicare Advantage enrollment page offers more details about all sign-up periods, including the SEP.
Medicare can seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. Check out our Medicare Information section for details on enrollment, costs, options and coverage comparisons.