Medicare Open Enrollment Is Starting, What If You Miss It?

Once you’ve been enrolled into Medicare, you’ll have various opportunities to change your coverage. Here is a brief overview:

During the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7), you can make a variety of changes to your current Medicare plan for the following year, including:

¯ Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare or vice versa.

¯ Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.

¯ Switch from one Part D prescription plan to another. It is highly recommended that all beneficiaries use the Medicare.gov planfinder each year to compare the available Part D plans, as opposed to simply letting an existing drug plan auto-renew.

¯ Join a Medicare Part D plan. (Late-enrollment penalty might apply.)

¯ Drop your Part D coverage altogether. (Re-enrolling in a later year will include a late-enrollment penalty if you are not maintaining other creditable drug coverage.)

During the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31, Americans who are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage can:

¯ Switch to Original Medicare (and enroll in a Part D plan; you can also enroll into a medigap plan during this time depending on the circumstances.)

¯ Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

¯ Only one plan change is allowed during this window (unlike the fall enrollment period, when a person can change their mind multiple times, with the last plan selection taking effect on January 1).

During the five-star enrollment period (Dec. 8 to Nov. 30), people who live in an area with a five-star Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan can switch to that plan if they choose to do so.

During the first year a person is enrolled in Medicare Advantage, they can switch to (or back to) Original Medicare and a Part D plan. And with some exceptions, they also have guaranteed-issue access to a Medigap plan.

Any time during the year, a person enrolled in Original Medicare can apply for a different Medigap plan. This applies to NY State residents where underwriting is not a requirement to enroll into a medigap plan.

So, it is always a good idea to review your current Medicare plans during the upcoming open enrollment period (Oct. 15 to Dec 7) but not to worry, you have additional times you can switch your plans if you need to. For more information, contact the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Service’s NY Connects Helpline at 753-4582


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