Over 65? Pay attention to your Medicare options this Open Enrollment Period
Open enrollment for Medicare 2021 coverage is just around the corner. Open enrollment, also called the Annual Election Period, for Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) and Medicare Prescription Drug (Medicare Part D) begins on October 15 and ends on December 7.1 Changes you make during this period will go into effect on January 1, 2021.2
The Open Enrollment Period allows current Medicare users to re-evaluate their plans and switch, drop or add a Medicare Advantage and/or Part D plan as follows :
- Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (as long as you’re enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B and you live in the Medicare Advantage plan’s service area).
- Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare (plus a Medicare Part D plan, and possibly a Medigap plan).
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Join, drop or switch from one Part D prescription plan to another. If you haven’t maintained other creditable coverage, a late-enrollment penalty may apply.1 (Helpful tip: Try Medicare’s plan finder tool to compare and evaluate the available Part D plans to make sure you choose the best option for your needs).
Sometimes, changes are made to the coverage, costs, or services areas of your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug plans. The Annual Election Period is a good time to review your plan benefits and make sure your doctors and prescription drugs remain covered in 2021. Each fall, your plan will send you an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter that will include details of any changes to your plan. You should receive this notice in September. If you haven’t received this important letter, contact your plan provider. 3
It’s important to note that, each year, there are several periods in which you can enroll in Medicare and each of those periods has specific rules about applying and when coverage will begin.2 The National Council of Aging (NCOA) has a helpful calendar that breaks down your options for each of these periods.
We know that choosing the right Medicare options can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re looking for guidance or resources on how to make the most of your benefits, check out the NCOA’s “My Medicare Matters” tool, where you can take a Medicare assessment that will help guide you in making an informed decision about your health coverage options.
1Medicare Open Enrollment 2021 Guide. MedicareResources.Org.
2 When to apply for Medicare. NCOA, My Medicare Matters.
3Plan Annual Notice of Change. Medicare.gov, The Office U.S. Government Site for Medicare.