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New To Medicare Open Enrollment? Here Are The Basics

What is Medicare open enrollment, and how can it help you? You’ll find the answers to those questions and more in this quick guide.

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Taking advantage of Medicare open enrollment isn’t necessarily a must, but it can save you money and ensure you get the medical coverage you need for 2020.

To get you acquainted with this period of possible savings, here are some basics on the topic that you can digest in just a couple of minutes:

What Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

Also referred to as the annual coordinated election period or the annual election period (AEP), open enrollment lets Medicare enrollees reevaluate and change their coverage.

When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment for 2020 coverage began on October 15th and runs until December 7, 2019. Any changes made during the period will become effective on January 1, 2020.

What Types of Changes Can You Make During the Open Enrollment Period?

Open enrollment is quite flexible in terms of adjusting your coverage. Here are some examples of the moves you can make to fit your budget and medical needs better:

  • You can change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage.
  • You can change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare.
  • You can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • You can enroll in Medicare Part D (you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty during this period)
  • You can change from one Medicare Part D plan to another.

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Signing up for Medicare Advantage During Open Enrollment

If you’ve been contemplating switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, keep in mind that you will have to meet specific requirements.

First, you will need to live in the service area that corresponds to the plan. Second, you will need to be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Last, but not least, you cannot have end-stage renal disease (ESRD). If you do, you will be eligible for Medicare Advantage in 2021, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.

Are Changes Mandatory During Medicare Open Enrollment?

You do not have to make changes to your plan during the open enrollment period.

For instance, you may be satisfied with your current Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription plan, or you may not have the time or desire to research options. As long as your current plan will continue to be available in 2020, it will renew automatically. If not, your carrier should have sent a non-renewal notice before open enrollment.

The Benefits of Making Changes During Open Enrollment

Medicare plan premiums and benefits can change from one year to another. If you choose to ignore the open enrollment period, you could see differences in your 2020 plan that are more costly while providing less coverage. For this reason, it’s a good idea to look your plan over, see that it suits your needs, and see if there are better options on the market.

Are you taking different prescriptions now than you used to? A different Part D plan may be in order. Are your providers still in-network for your Medicare Advantage plan? They can also change each year, and failing to check could leave you seeing a different doctor in 2020.

Even if you decide to make no changes to your plans for the coming year, use open enrollment to double-check that your costs and coverage are ideal before December 7th arrives.

Jonah Jacobs