5 Things to Know About Medicare Open Enrollment

Quick Tips everyone should know about Medicare's Annual Election Period

by Chris Mihm+ on Sep 27, 2016 | 14 Comments

Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP), also known as open enrollment, happens every year from October 15th until December 7th. Here are 5 things you need to know about this Annual Election Period.

Updated on September 27th, 2016 from the May 2015 article

1) Medicare Open Enrollment is for Switching Plans

Medicare Annual Election Period Open Enrollment is the one time each year you can switch MA & Part D Drug plans without going through any medical underwriting. This means that if you don’t like your current plan you can use this time to switch to another plan and they have to accept you. You should compare the cost and coverage of your current MA plan and Part D plans to see if its the best for your needs. If you provide us with a list of your current drugs, a Senior65 licensed agent will compare all the drug plans in your area for free. You can contact us here.

2) Open Enrollment is Different than Initial Enrollment

As stated in Tip #1, this time is for switching plans. Medicare’s initial enrollment period is when you are supposed to first sign up for Medicare and Supplemental coverage. Unless you postpone Medicare Part B, initial enrollment is usually three months before and after you turn 65.  Learn more about initial enrollment here.

If you miss Medicare’s initial enrollment deadline, you can use the Annual Election Period to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) or Part D drug plan.

3) Open Enrollment Starts October 15th

Medicare’s Annual Election Period is from October 15th thru December 7th, for a January 1st start date. If you miss this date you are stuck with the same plan as last year. Don’t say we didn’t warn you :)

4) Medicare Open Enrollment is Not Part of Obamacare

As if Medicare wasn’t already confusing enough, now there is one more thing to add to the noise. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has their own “open enrollment” around the same time as Medicare Annual Election Period. The two enrollments are very different with different start and end dates. Just remember that Obamacare open enrollment is not for (most) seniors!

5) Medigap Does Not Have Open Enrollment

Many people believe that they can switch to a Medigap plan during Open Enrollment without medical review. Medigap has a guaranteed enrollment period of 6 months, which usually begins on the first of the month you turn 65 and are first eligible for Medicare Part B. If you apply for Medigap during AEP you may be subject to medical underwriting.

Many people use open enrollment to leave Medicare Advantage and sign up for Medigap and a separate drug plan for the first time. Contact us and we can show you how this is done.

Learn More about Open Enrollment

Next Steps
Before and during Open Enrollment Medicare you’ll want to research your current health plan’s changes and compare to other health plans in your area to decide which is best suited for you. If you decide your current plan meets your needs you don’t need to do anything. If you are not happy with your plan or just want to compare what else is out there give us a call at 800-930-7956 or click here for a Medicare Advantage quote or a Prescription drug quote.

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Reader Comments and Questions

By marcia on February 20, 2019

I Changed my plan In Oct to AARP complete as I was told it would save money. It actually has done the opposite. Am I now stuck with this plan until Oct 2019?

There are certain circumstances where you will not have to wait until Open Enrollment 2019 to switch Medicare Advantage plans. For example, you are usually able to switch to a Medicare Advantage 5 star plan at anytime. Give us a call and we can review your situation to see if we can help you save money.
-Michelle from Senior65.com

By Annette on November 28, 2017

My husband has Medicare (traditional). He is happy with it but wants a supplemental insurance. Does he have to pick before Dec. 7?

Your husband does not need to pick a plan before Dec 7th if he don't have a plan now. If he is outside his initial enrollment (a href="https://www.senior65.com/medicare/deadline-calculator>check our Medicare Deadline Calculator to see), he can apply at any time but they may ask medical questions. Give us a call and we can help guide you though the application process.
-Eric from Senior65

By Bob on November 09, 2017

I turned 65 in Feb of 2017. I am still working full time and have health benefits. I registered with SSI a month before I turned 65, but am not using it. I'm not sure when I will retire, it could be in 2018. Do I need to do anything, or is this something you do when you retire? This is all so confusing, thanks for your help. Bob

Thanks for contacting us. If you still have health benefits through work you will want to consider postponing Medicare Part B until you retire. Check with your HR department and contact Social Security to make sure that they don't automatically enroll you in Part B.

Since your work plan probably offers credible drug coverage you can also skip enrolling in Medicare Part D until you retire

Once you retire, you will want to elect part B and consider supplemental insurance and a PArt D drug plan. We can help you research and enroll in those.
-Amy from Senior65.com

By Joyce on November 06, 2017

If I am happy with my current plan, do I have to do anything? Thank-You! Joyce, if you are happy with your plan, you do not have to do anything. All Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans will auto renew.
-Amy from Senior65.com

By Braden Bills on June 01, 2017

I want to make sure that I have the right medicare plans. It's good to know that open enrollment is coming up! I'll make sure that I'm ready for that, since that's not something I want to miss.

By charlotte strasheim on March 05, 2017

I am currently insured with based HMO plan in pa and I am 65 and have medicare. I am to move in May and I would be interested in a HMO nationwide medical plan that I can use anywhere (I am not sure of where I will reside permanently)

Thank you for your question. It is unlikely that you'll find an HMO with nationwide coverage; however, you will have two options when you move out of your plan's area: you can enroll in a Medigap plan (they all have nationwide coverage) or you can see if there are any Medicare Advantage PPO plans with nationwide coverage in your new area. For help with this, please call one of our Senior65 licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Amy from https://www.senior65.com/

By kim hanneman on December 11, 2016

I moved from PA to WA on November 21, 2016 and missed the Dec 7 enrollment for a Medicare Supplemental Insurance plan. Is there anything I can do? I need a doctor to prescribe the meds I'm currently taking, and I'd like to find a therapist. My husband quit his job to move to WA, so I no longer am covered by his insurance. He's on a COBRA plan until he finds work. He's 63 and I'm 69.

You should still have some time to enroll! The reason is the Annual Election Period (Oct 15 -Dec 7) does NOT apply to Medicare Supplement enrollment; however, since you just lost your job-based insurance you should have a qualifying special enrollment period to enroll. Please call one of our Senior65 licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Chris from https://www.senior65.com/

By Kim Sundling on December 07, 2016

Someone asked this question last December, but it wasn't really answered: Do I have until 11:59pm on December 7th to make any Medicare changes? Thank you.

Yes, you have until midnight on the deadline. However, we wouldn't suggest waiting until then, because if the system times out, you won't have a chance to enroll.
-Eric from https://www.senior65.com/

By eve on December 04, 2016

I had a ppo and wanted to upgrade to a medie gap plan now they are telling me it had to go to the underwriters. Now my ppo has been cancled. Can i go back to my ppo without it going to under writing if the medie gap dosent work out. Bythat i mean will it coast more money than I was originally quoted for the mediegap plan or can they turn me down for the mediegap plan. And leave me with no insurance at all? Worried sick help.

We would need more detailed information to be able to help you. Please call one of our Senior65 licensed independent insurance agents at 800-930-7956.
-Eric from https://www.senior65.com/

By Danielle on December 05, 2015

I know open enrollment is "thru" December 7th. Does that mean we have until midnight on December 7th, or midnight on December 6th? Thank you.

Medicare's Annual Election Period ends on the 7th. Please let us know if we can help you with finding a plan in your area by calling 800-930-7956.
-Michelle from https://www.senior65.com/

By kellie fogg on November 04, 2015

if I am happy with my current medicare coverage. do I need to do anything during open enrollment? thank you

If you have Medigap coverage, you do not have to do anything. If you have Medicare Advantage or separate Part D coverage, we suggest that everyone compare plans, as coverage can change each year. Hope this helps!
-Amy from https://www.senior65.com/

By Travise on August 17, 2015

So people with traditional don't need to participate?

if you are happy with traditional (Original) Medicare, then you do not have to do anything during Open Enrollment.
-Chris from https://www.senior65.com/

By Jenny on June 12, 2015

Should I get a separate drug and MA plan? Or is it better to get them grouped together?

Great question. Most Medicare Advantage plans include drugs. If you enroll in an MA HMO or PPO that doesn't offer drugs, you will not be able to enroll in a separate drug plan.
-Jacima from https://www.senior65.com/

By Uta on May 19, 2015

I didn't know Open Enrollment was just for Medicare Advantage and drugs. Thanks. Good article.

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot comment on specific Medicare claims. Contact Medicare directly if you are trying to see if your issue is covered.

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