Reminder about Medicare Enrollment Periods

Now that we are in a new plan year for people with Medicare health coverage, some Medicare beneficiaries may find that that their current coverage does not meet their needs.  This article reminds readers about available enrollment periods that allow people to change their plans during the year. 

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period 

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period runs from January 1st through March 31st.  This enrollment period allows people who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan on January 1st to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan (with or without drug coverage) or disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.  Anyone choosing to return to Original Medicare during this period will be able to join a stand-alone prescription drug plan for Part D coverage.  Only one change may be made during this period.  Any change made during this period will become effective the first day of the next month.  For example, if someone disenrolls from their Medicare Advantage plan and enrolls in a prescription drug plan on February 16th, they will have Original Medicare and their chosen prescription drug plan coverage starting on March 1st.   

Special Enrollment Period for Dual Eligibles and People with Extra Help  

Dual eligibles (those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) and other individuals who are eligible for Extra Help with their Part D costs have a special enrollment period to change their Medicare health or drug plan once a quarter during each of the first three quarters in a calendar year.  Changes made during this period will start the first of the next month.  After September 30th, duals and those eligible for Extra Help can use the annual enrollment period (October 15th – December 7th) to make changes and the new plan will start January 1st.  

Other Special Enrollment Periods 

Aside from the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) discussed above, there are a number of other SEPs that exist for various circumstances.  People can use different Special Enrollment Periods to make changes during the year.  Common ones include when people move, when people lose eligibility for Medicaid, or when people lose other prescription coverage and need to enroll in Part D.  For more information about Medicare enrollment periods and other special enrollment periods that may be available, see Medicare’s publication on this topic here

We highlight that a special enrollment period may be available for those who received inaccurate or misleading information while using the new Medicare Plan Finder to choose their 2020 Medicare coverage.  If you, or a consumer you work with, believe you received misinformation and ended up with Medicare coverage that does not work for you, call 1-800-MEDICARE to explain your circumstances and discuss the availability of a special enrollment period.   

General Enrollment Period for Medicare Part B 

Each year, individuals who did not sign up for Medicare Part B when they were first eligible can enroll in Part B during the General Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1st through March 31st.  Coverage for those who enroll during the General Enrollment Period starts July 1st.  Individuals who delayed enrolling in Part B because they were working and had coverage through their employer have an eight month Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Part B.  This SEP starts when the employment ends or the employer coverage ends, whichever happens first. More information is available here.  

We encourage readers who have questions about enrolling in Medicare or who need help to enroll or make plan changes to call APPRISE at 1-800-783-7067.