banner ad
Experts Logo


How To Prepare For The Medicare Open Enrollment Period

By: Lindsay Malzone, Medicare Expert for Elite Insurance Partners
Tel: 800-845-2484
Email Lindsay Malzone

View Profile on

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, also known as Open Enrollment, lasts for seven and a half weeks, giving beneficiaries a chance to make changes to their Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug coverage. Before October 15, it’s important to prepare for this window. The most crucial part of preparation is gaining knowledge, so you’re not stuck after this enrollment period ends on December 7, wishing you had better coverage for the year to come.

Think About What You Want from Your Coverage

If you’re considering enrollment in an Advantage or Part D plan, the Annual Enrollment Period is your opportunity. But before you can obtain either type of coverage, you must enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B).

Keep in mind, you can only enroll in one of these types of plans at a time. Advantage policies typically include prescription drug coverage. On the other hand, you can have a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan with Original Medicare and Part D, but you can't have Medigap at the same time you’re on an Advantage plan.

When it comes to choosing insurance, always ask yourself if your current coverage meets all your financial and medical needs. We suggest always reviewing other Medicare options, even if you think you’re satisfied with what you have.

Know What Changes Are Possible During the Annual Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period gives you permission to enroll, switch or disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage plan. You can do the following during this window:

  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from your current Advantage plan to another
  • Return to Original Medicare from your current Advantage plan – with the option to add a Part D prescription drug plan
  • Swap one Part D plan for another
  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan
  • Drop your current Part D prescription drug plan

You can make multiple changes, but the final change goes into effect on January 1 of the following year. If you find you aren’t satisfied with the Advantage coverage you pick up during the Annual Enrollment Period, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period gives you the opportunity to make another change. From January 1 through March 31, people with Medicare Advantage can drop or switch plans.

However, you can’t enroll in a new Advantage plan during this enrollment period if you don’t already have one. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period also gives you the opportunity to pick up a Part D plan, but only if you dropped your Advantage plan completely.

Don’t Ignore Your Annual Notice of Change Letter

Every September, your Medicare plan’s carrier mails a letter called the Annual Notice of Change (ANoC). This important document explains any changes to the costs, coverage, and benefits of your current plan.

Every year, you can expect changes to your deductibles and premiums. When you receive this letter, review it, and decide if your current plan still meets your needs.

If you don’t make adjustments to your coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, the changes your ANoC lists take effect on January 1 of the following year. Contact your carrier if you don’t get your ANoC letter by the end of September.

Explore Plan Options in Your Area

Before Open Enrollment begins, research the Part D and Advantage plans available in your area. Then, you’ll want to weigh your options and decide which plan works best for you. If you prefer to speak to someone directly, contact an agent licensed in your state. 

You should consider premiums, what prescriptions are listed on the drug formulary, and any future trips overseas, as well as upcoming surgeries or doctor appointments. For Advantage plans, consider your maximum out-of-pocket costs and whether your practitioners are in-network.

Don’t Wait Until Next Fall

Researching your options is the key to choosing wisely during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period. After the window closes, you'll need to continue with your current coverage for the year. Your next opportunity to make all the same changes will be the following fall.

Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare Consultant for MedicareFAQ. She has worked in the Medicare industry since 2017 and is featured in many publications as well as writing Medicare focused columns for other publications.

©Copyright - All Rights Reserved


Related articles


11/4/2020· Medicare - Medicade - Health Insurance

Medicare Advantage Coverage Expansion for 2021 Plan Year

By: Lindsay Malzone

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have implemented several requirements for Medicare Advantage plans in the year to come. Among the new features of Medicare Advantage plans, the changes aim to help patients and providers stay safe by allowing treatment to happen at home through telehealth.


9/16/2020· Medicare - Medicade - Health Insurance

How To Prepare For The Annual Enrollment Period

By: Lindsay Malzone

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is from October 15th- December 7th it allows you to change your coverage. Many people don't realize that Medicare Advantage and prescription plans change annually.


5/5/2020· Medicare - Medicade - Health Insurance

Medicare Coverage of Senior Care Services

By: Lindsay Malzone

Medicare covers many senior care services. Although, there are exceptions, limitations and costs you need to know about. Understanding the coverage Medicare provides will make receiving care easier. When you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly.

; broker Movie Ad

Follow us

linkedin logo youtube logo rss feed logo