What is Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period?

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

The Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election period (AEP), starts Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 each year, This is when Medicare enrollees can make changes to their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage for the coming year.

Why is open enrollment and reviewing my plan now so important?

Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans can change each year, meaning the amounts you pay in premiums and deductibles could increase. Insurance carriers also can change their drug formularies, meaning a drug that costs you a few dollars each month could double or triple in price next year if dropped from your carrier’s formulary. Reviewing your plans is one of the best ways to manage your long-term retirement plan because you can identify any changes that could add up expenses over time, or that could quickly lead to financial hardship. Plus, you could even find a plan with better coverage.

Can I change my Medicare Supplement during open enrollment?

Yes, if you have a Medicare Supplement plan instead of Medicare Advantage, it can be a good idea to review your plan because Medicare Supplement premiums and plans also can change. However, know that switching Medicare Supplement policies could require you to submit to a medical underwriting process that could result in a higher rate or denial based on its findings.

Why is an annual review of my Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage especially important each year?

If you have new medications, have switched medications or your insurance carrier changes its drug formulary, your costs could skyrocket if you do not carefully review your current plan. And switching to a plan because you can save on the monthly premium could be costly, too. The plans with the lowest premiums are not always the better financial choice. The cost of one month’s worth of one drug that is not on your plan’s formulary could exceed an entire year’s worth of your monthly premiums.