Once you sign up for Medicare at age 65, you aren’t locked into a particular program for life. Each year during the Annual Election Period, which functions like an open enrollment, you can evaluate your current plan(s) and make changes that benefit you.
That’s good news, regarding your healthcare needs and budget, but because Medicare can be a bit confusing, it’s important to remember these important dates so that you don’t overlook anything.
October 15 to December 7. This is the Annual Election Period. You can add a Medicare plan, drop a plan, or make other changes to your coverage at this time.
As the Annual Election Period approaches, gather the previous year’s medical bills to evaluate your out-of-pocket spending. You might also receive a notice in the mail, regarding changes to your current plan’s coverage. Also speak with your doctor about the need for upcoming screenings, treatments, or medication changes. All of these factors come together to determine your coverage needs.
If you decide that you like your current plan(s), you don’t have to do anything during this time. You will be automatically re-enrolled.
January 1. This is the date on which your new plan(s) will begin. Keep in mind that if your coverage is changing, you might need to schedule certain procedures before January 1. On the other hand, it might make sense to wait until after the change. Talk to your doctor.
January 1 to February 14. If you change your mind about your Medicare Advantage plan, you can drop it between these dates and return to original Medicare. However, you cannot switch to another Advantage plan.
If you return to original Medicare, you can also add a Part D plan at this time.
January 1 to March 31. If you forgot to enroll in Medicare when you turned 65, you can do so at this time. Remember that you will be charged a late penalty for missing the original deadline.
If you have questions about any of these dates, or need help sorting through your options, remember that you can call us for assistance.