If you want to make a change to your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage coverage, the Annual Enrollment Period is your main opportunity to do so. Each fall the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period allows beneficiaries to make changes to their current Medicare coverage or elect new coverage for the following calendar year.

What Is the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period For 2022?

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period runs each year from October 15 to December 7. Any changes you make during this time will go into effect January 1 of the following year. The Annual Enrollment Period is most important for beneficiaries with Part D prescription drug coverage and those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

Prior to the Annual Enrollment Period, you should receive an Annual Notice of Change from your current plan carrier. This notice will outline all major changes to your plan for the upcoming year. It is essential to review this notice and compare your plan with other available plans in your area.

Because Medicare plan benefits change each year, it is important to review your coverage annually to ensure you have the best plan available to you for the upcoming year. Some common reasons beneficiaries change plans during the Annual Enrollment Period are premium increases, formulary changes, or Medicare Advantage plan network changes.

Changes You Can Make During the Annual Enrollment Period

During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, beneficiaries are permitted to make the following changes:

  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B)
  • Pick up a Medicare Advantage plan (if on Original Medicare)
  • Pair your Original Medicare coverage with a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another
  • Disenroll from a Medicare Part D Plan

During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you can make as many changes as you see necessary. However, the plans in which you are enrolled on December 7 will be your coverage for the following calendar year.

Keep in mind, if you don’t make any changes, your current Medicare coverage will roll over to the next year automatically.

Things to Consider During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

If you aren’t sure whether you should make a change to your coverage elections during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will my premiums increase next year?
  • Is my doctor staying in my plan’s network?
  • Are my medications and dosages still part of my prescription drug plan’s formulary?
  • Do I plan on traveling next year?
  • What additional benefits are available to me?
  • How many stars is my current plan rated?

If you are unhappy with any of the answers to the questions above, contact your licensed agent and speak to them about your coverage needs. Reviewing available Medicare plans is the best way to know if you need to make a change or not.

Medicare Supplement Plan Changes During the Annual Enrollment Period

During the Annual Enrollment Period, there are no special guidelines in place for those with coverage through a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. When you have a Medicare Supplement plan, you can make changes at any time throughout the year – as long as you can pass underwriting health questions.

However, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to a Medicare Supplement plan, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is the best time to do so. During the Annual Enrollment Period, you can return to Original Medicare and then apply for coverage through a Medicare Supplement plan.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not an open enrollment period for Medicare Supplement plans. In most states, you still must pass medical underwriting.

How to Successfully Navigate the Annual Enrollment Period

Before the Annual Enrollment Period is upon us, it is important to have a plan. Between  October 1 and October 15, you should already review any changes to your current plan and know what your needs will be for the following year. Medicare offers a great tool to help beneficiaries compare plans and have an idea of the plans available in their area.

Sources:

  1. Annual Notice of Change, Medicare.gov. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-other-resources/mail-you-get-about-medicare/plan-annual-notice-of-change-anoc
  2. Medicare Open Enrollment, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accessed February 2022.
    https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Medicare-Open-Enrollment

Jagger Esch

Medicare Expert

Jagger Esch is the Medicare expert for MedicareFAQ and the founder, president, and CEO of Elite Insurance Partners and MedicareFAQ.com. Since the inception of his first company in 2012, he has been dedicated to helping those eligible for Medicare by providing them with resources to educate themselves on all their Medicare options. He is featured in many publications as well as writes regularly for other expert columns regarding Medicare.