This article was originally published on September 19, 2017, and updated on October 16, 2017 and December 7, 2017.
Open enrollment ends today! Here’s what you need to know about what to do during Medicare’s open enrollment period.
Open enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7, 2017, and any changes you make will take effect on January 1, 2018.
During this time, you can review your current coverage and make any changes you would like to make for 2018. It is a good time to check in with your plan, as costs, coverage, providers, and pharmacies in your network can change each year. Especially take note of any changes in prescription drug costs or coverage. Pay attention to an “Evidence of Coverage” or “Annual Notice of Coverage” sent to you from your plan.
This open enrollment period for Medicare is not related to the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplaces (Exchanges) open enrollment period that runs from November 1 through December 15. In fact, there is a penalty for those still enrolled through ACA who are eligible for Medicare and haven’t switched to Medicare. The federal government allowed seniors over 65 and enrolled in an ACA marketplace plan until September 30, 2017 to move to Medicare Part B without incurring a penalty. Contact your nearest Social Security Office for more information.
What to do during open enrollment
During Medicare open enrollment, you can:
- Make no changes and keep your plan as it is
- Switch from Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Medicare
- Change Medicare Advantage plans
- Change Medicare Part D plans, sign up for Part D, or drop Part D
It is advised to enroll in Part D prescription drug coverage even if you don’t need it at this time to avoid incurring a penalty later and having to pay full price for any drugs you may need.
In most cases, the Open Enrollment Period is the only time when you can choose a new Medicare Advantage Plan or a Part D plan. This is the time when you can check to see if other plans offer better prices and coverage for you. Research has shown that those who research various Part D and Medicare Advantage plans save more money each year than those who simply stick with what they already have.
If you are still working
If you are still working and your group plan has more than 20 employees, you can remain under your employer’s insurance and enroll in Medicare when coverage ends without a penalty through a special enrollment period. However, if your group plan has fewer than 20 employees, then you should enroll in Medicare.
Find the right plan
To see what plans are available to you, call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit Medicare’s Plan Finder. Once you find a plan you like, visit their website and call them to confirm the benefits they offer. When you talk to them, write down what they say and to whom you spoke, and keep a record of it.
If you need more help, contact your local SHIP. And stay tuned for updates and more information throughout the 2017-18 open enrollment period.