The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period is the time during which Medicare beneficiaries can make new choices and pick plans that work best for them. Each year, Medicare plan costs and coverage typically change. In addition, your health-care needs may have changed over the past year. The Open Enrollment Period — which begins on October 15 and runs through December 7 — is your opportunity to switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans to better suit your needs.
During this period, you can:
- Join a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D)
- Switch from one Part D plan to another Part D plan
- Drop your Part D coverage altogether
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage plan that offers prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t offer prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that does offer prescription drug coverage
Any changes made during Open Enrollment are effective as of January 1, 2021.
Review plan options
Now is a good time to review your current Medicare plan to see if it’s still right for you. Have you been satisfied with the coverage and level of care you’re receiving with your current plan? Are your premium costs or out-of-pocket expenses too high? Has your health changed? Do you anticipate needing medical care or treatment, or new or pricier prescription drugs?
If your current plan doesn’t meet your health-care needs or fit within your budget, you can switch to a new plan. If you find that you’re satisfied with your current Medicare plan and it’s still being offered, you don’t have to do anything. The coverage you have will continue.
Medicare Part B (hospital insurance) premium and deductible costs capped for 2021
A provision of the short-term government spending bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Trump limits potential Medicare Part B premium and deductible increases to 25% of what they would otherwise be. In April, the Medicare Trustees projected a 6% increase in the standard Medicare Part B premium but stated that this projection was uncertain. Most Medicare costs for the following year are typically announced in late October or early November, so actual Medicare Part B costs for 2021 will not be available until then.