Signing Up for Medicare - Fall Open Enrollment Guide
Open Enrollment for 2023 is right around the corner, which is your opportunity to adjust your Medicare coverage for the upcoming year. Here’s everything you need to know before the Annual Enrollment Period.
Medicare Annual Open Enrollment FAQ
With several types of enrollment periods for Medicare coverage, it can be confusing to navigate. We’re answering a handful of common questions to help you prepare for the Medicare Open Enrollment coming up this fall.
What is Medicare Open Enrollment?
Medicare Open Enrollment — also referred to as the Annual Election Period or Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) — is the annual time frame in the fall when Medicare beneficiaries or new enrollees can update their Medicare coverage for the following calendar year. This includes:
- Enrolling in a new Medicare plan, including Medicare Advantage
- Switching your current Medicare plan
- Updating your prescription drug plan through Medicare Part D
- Going back to Original Medicare from your Medicare Plan
When is the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare?
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) occurs annually every fall. The sign-up window starts on October 15th each year and ends on December 7th. All changes you make during this time will go into effect on January 1st.
In some cases, extended enrollment opportunities are an option for beneficiaries who move to a new address, lose insurance coverage, or experience a major disaster in their place of residence.
Does the Fall Open Enrollment apply to all parts of Medicare? And who is eligible to make coverage changes?
The Annual Medicare Enrollment Period allows you to enroll, switch, or un-enroll from the following plans:
- Original Medicare: Part A and B
- Medicare Advantage Plan: Part C
- Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans
You are eligible to make changes to your Medicare coverage if you are enrolled in any of the plans listed above. However, if you are not previously enrolled in a Medicare Part B plan and would like Medicare Part B coverage, you must instead register during the enrollment period between January 1 to March 31. When making changes to Medicare Part D, this also includes switching from one prescription drug plan to another. Some reasons you may want to change your drug plan include changes in the following:
- Preferred pharmacy
- Drug ingredients or formula
What changes can I make during the Annual Medicare Enrollment Period?
If you already have Medicare coverage from the previous year, eligible changes include:
- Switching between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans
- Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan
- Changing from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
- Enrolling in or opting out of a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
- Changing from one Medicare Part D plan to another
- Switching from Medicare Supplement to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa
If you are not currently enrolled in a Medicare plan, the AEP allows you to sign up for a plan that suits your needs for the following year. Any changes made to your Medicare plan will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
Who can I contact to make changes to my plan during the AEP?
Our licensed agents at OpenMedicare are here to help you navigate the enrollment process. Give us a call at (844) 910-2061 to speak to a licensed insurance agent. Our team is dedicated to identifying what benefits are most important to you, so you can find the right plan that meets your needs.
What is the easiest way to enroll in a new plan?
To ensure a smooth enrollment process for a new plan, please call 1-800-MEDICARE and speak to a representative who will assist you. During your call, be sure to obtain the following information in the event that you need to refer back to your conversation later:
- The date and time of your conversation
- The name of the representative you spoke to
- Their email address and phone number, including a direct extension if it’s available
- What next steps look like for your enrollment process
Before your call, write down any questions you may have to clarify your concerns.
Can I enroll in Medicare Supplement or Medigap during the AEP?
Yes, you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan during the AEP, but you are not guaranteed enrollment unless you enroll during the Medigap Open Enrollment period. If you are interested in enrolling in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan — also known as Medigap — the best time to apply is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP) which differs from the Annual Medicare Enrollment Period (AEP).
Here are some important things to know about your personal OEP if you would like to sign up for a Medigap insurance plan:
- The enrollment period does not occur annually.
- Your six-month enrollment period starts on the first day your Medicare Part B plan goes into effect after you turn 65.
Because this enrollment period is a one-time window, if you decide a Medigap Plan is the right plan for you we encourage you to sign up for Medigap coverage within six months of enrolling in Medicare Part B. If you apply for Medigap after your open enrollment period ends, there are no State or Federal laws that require an insurance company to accept your application, which is why you should take advantage of your OEP window as soon as possible.
If I make a mistake when I update my coverage during the AEP, what can I do to fix it?
As mentioned earlier, you can update your Medicare plan as often as necessary between October 15 and December 7. Therefore, we highly encourage that you update your coverage as early as possible during the Fall Enrollment Period to allow yourself time to review your submission and make any necessary changes before the December 7 deadline. If you have any questions along the way, please give us a call at (844) 910-2061 to be connected directly to a licensed Medicare agent.
Your final plan selection on December 7th will be the plan that takes effect on January 1st.
What happens if I don’t like the Medicare Advantage plan I sign up for during the AEP?
If you are unhappy with the Medicare Advantage you chose during the AEP, you have a second chance to change your plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). This enrollment period happens annually between January 1 to March 31.
Within this time frame, you have the ability to switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. It’s important to note that you can only make a change once during the OEP. All changes will be effective on the first day of the month after you finalize your enrollment.
Do I have to sign up for Medicare every year? What will happen if I don’t change my Medicare coverage during the AEP?
If you are enrolled in an Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Plan, you enroll or disenroll if you would like to update or change your current coverage. Otherwise, no action is needed. If you do not make any changes to your Medicare coverage during the AEP, your plan should automatically renew unless:
- Your current plan no longer provides coverage where you live
- Your plan will no longer be affiliated with Medicare and its contract is terminated
- Your plan doesn’t renew its’ Medicare contract for the following year
Despite the fact that you do not have to renew your coverage every year, we highly recommend reviewing all the details of your coverage annually in the event that any aspects pertaining to your individual situation may have changed. Reviewing your coverage in September or October each year will give you ample time to make any updates during the AEP.
How do I find out if a plan I want provides coverage where I live?
For the quickest way to find plans in your area, please visit our website and enter your zip code to see all your options. Our partners offer a wide selection of 1,000+ plans nationwide. You can also call (844) 910-2061 to be connected directly with a Medicare agent who can assist you!
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Checklist
Are you prepared for the upcoming Annual Enrollment Period? Below is our step-by-step guide to ensure that you have all your bases covered before October 15.
1. Ensure you have all the proper documents. If you plan to make any changes to your current plan, set aside all the necessary documents you need including:
- Medicare card, Medicare Advantage ID, or Prescription Drug Plan card
- Write down a list of all your doctors to determine if they are all still in-network
- Compile a list of all your medications as well, including prescription names and dosages to ensure that everything you need is still covered
2. Collect all your medical bills and receipts from the past year. It’s advisable to keep all of these in one folder throughout the year. Gathering these documents will help you determine if your current coverage meets your annual budget. If you realize that your out-of-pocket expenses surpass your ideal budget, consider enrolling in a new plan for the upcoming year.
3. Review your current coverage. As mentioned above, we suggest setting a reminder on your calendar every September or October to review all the details of your current coverage. If you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage or a Part D Prescription Drug Plan, you will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) by September 30th. Some questions to ask yourself — or a licensed Medicare agent — include:
- Are there any changes being made to your current plan?
- Will your current plan still be applicable to your place of residence in the upcoming year?
- Does your current plan cover the medications and procedures you predict you will need for the upcoming year?
4. Research the best plan for you. If you’d like to update your coverage, find plans that are available in your area. It helps to work with a licensed Medicare agent who can help address any questions you may have.
5. Enroll before Open Enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7. Once you find the right plan for you, be sure to make any changes before the AEP deadline. The earlier you enroll, the better — in the event that you need to make any changes. As mentioned in our FAQ, you can make any necessary changes to your plan as long as they are made before the deadline and your final plan selection on December 7th will go into effect on January 1st.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get your Medicare coverage in order! Set a reminder in October and let OpenMedicare walk you through the process. It’s also important to note that wait times get longer as we get closer to the December 7 deadline, but we’ll be here for you if you need us!
For assistance, please call us at (844) 910-2061 or visit OpenMedicare’s website to start searching for plans in your area today.
OpenMedicare helps seniors navigate some of their most important decisions around health and wellness.