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Medicare Open Enrollment, also called the Annual Election Period, is a time every year during which you can review your Medicare benefits and make changes to your Medicare coverage. For Medicare Advantage Plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7. During Open Enrolment you can:
- Switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan from Original Medicare
- Switch back to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
- Make changes to your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, such as:
- Join a Medicare Part D plan
- Drop your current prescription drug plan
- Switch from one Part D plan to another
Evaluate your coverage each year to ensure it still meets your needs
Under federal guidelines, private insurers can make changes to Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D plans annually. Plan sponsors can:
- Increase (or decrease) premium and deductible amounts
- Increase (or decrease) coinsurance rates or copayments
- Add or remove covered health services
- Add or remove prescription drugs to or from the formulary (list of covered drugs)
- Add or drop doctors and hospitals to or from their networks
It is wise to take full advantage of the Annual Election Period each year by evaluating your Medicare plans to ensure your coverage still meets your health and budget needs. You should also review your plan every year to make sure that your doctors, prescription drugs, and the medical services you use the most continue to be covered under your plan.
Changes under Health Care Reform may affect your coverage
The new health care law includes a significant number of changes that will directly affect Medicare over the next few years. Many of these changes went into effect in 2011, so if you haven't reviewed your Medicare options in the past two or three years, you should definitely look at your plan(s) during this year's Annual Election Period. What was the perfect plan for you over the past few years may no longer be able to compete with a plan that offers more of the services you medically need.
For more information about Medicare benefits or the Medicare Annual Election Period, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE.