Don’t miss the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which, for those of you who are already enrolled, begins October 15th and runs until December 7th. That’s the only time a Medicare beneficiary can ordinarily make changes to his or her existing plan, or enroll in Medicare Advantage (Part C) or the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).
However, your open enrollment period can vary depending on your specific circumstances.
Turning 65 this year?
If you are turning 65 this year and you are not already eligible because of a specific medical issue that may qualify you at an earlier age, then your open enrollment period for Parts C and D (Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage) revolves around your birthday.
Specifically, your open enrollment period begins three months before the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65 – a span of seven months. This period is referred to as your Initial Enrollment Period, or IEP.
If you enroll before your birthday, your coverage begins on the first day of the month in which you turn 65. However, if you were born on the 1st of the month, your IEP shifts back one month. For example, if someone was born on Aug. 9th, 1954, their open enrollment period would run from April 1 to October 31, 2019. However, someone born on Aug. 1 would have an IEP beginning on March 1 and ending on Sept. 30.
If you want to make changes in your Medicare Advantage plan or your prescription drug plan, the annual fall open enrollment period is the time to do it. During the open enrollment period, you make any of these changes you like:
Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Switch from one Part D drug plan to another one.
Switch from a Part C plan with drug coverage to one without one, or vice versa.
Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
Switch from one Part C Medical Advantage Plan to another.
Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan
The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period
There is a separate period of time for disenrolling from Medicare Advantage plans. The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period runs from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14. That’s when you can drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and switch back to original Medicare. If you do, you can join a Part D Medicare Prescription Drug Plan as long as you do so prior to Feb. 14.
If you do join a Part D plan, your coverage will commence on the 1stof the month after the plan administrators receive your enrollment form.
Of course, it’s not required that you take any action at all during open enrollment. However, if your health situation has changed, it may be time to consider making a change. For example, if you have started taking an expensive prescription drug, and you don’t already have prescription drug coverage, you may want to consider signing up for either a Part D prescription Drug program or a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes a prescription drug benefit.
At any rate, now is the time to have a conversation with us to discuss your situation and options. Don’t let the opportunity to make changes to your plan pass you by!