Get Ready for Medicare Open Enrollment: Essential Information You Need

Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is between October 15 to December 7. Medicare coverage can be changed at this time. The changes you make will become effective on January 1. This phase is also referred to as the Annual Election Period.

What’s Allowed

Open Enrollment allows you to make specific adjustments to your health insurance coverage. This includes adding, dropping, or altering your Medicare Advantage and Part D coverage. Although you can make numerous changes during this period, only your final coverage choice will be activated in January. Changes to Medicare may result in enrollment in a new Medicare Advantage Plan, Part D prescription drug plan, switching from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan, or switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.

What to Know About Medigap

If you switch to Original Medicare, be aware that your options for acquiring a Medigap policy to assist with out-of-pocket expenses may be limited. This limitation also applies if you transition from Original Medicare with a Medigap policy to a Medicare Advantage Plan, as you cannot possess both a Medigap policy and a Medicare Advantage Plan. Should you wish to revert to Original Medicare later, your options for a Medigap policy may again be limited. Medigap purchasing regulations differ by state, so it’s advisable to contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for state-specific Medigap rights.

What to Look For

Before deciding on your 2024 coverage, evaluate the Medicare health and drug plan options available. You might find equal or superior health or drug coverage at a more economical price. For instance, even if you’re content with your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, it’s wise to check for other plans that offer similar coverage at a better price.

Utilize the Open Enrollment period to reassess your existing Medicare health and drug coverage.

During Open Enrollment, you’ll receive plenty of mail, so it’s crucial to identify which mailings contain information regarding your current coverage. No matter how you get Medicare coverage, consider your access to desired healthcare providers and pharmacies, the benefits and services you require, and the total costs, including insurance premiums, deductibles, and cost-sharing amounts.

If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you can visit or peruse the 2024 Medicare & You handbook to understand the Original Medicare benefits for 2024.

Review Your Plan

Review your plan’s Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) to learn about any changes in your plan for 2024 if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone Part D plan. Pay attention to any changes in costs, benefits, coverage rules, and the formulary, the list of drugs covered by your plan. Make sure the drugs you use are covered and your providers and pharmacies remain in the plan’s network. If you’re dissatisfied with any changes, you can switch plans.

For Help With Changes 

For assistance reviewing changes to your plan and comparing other coverage options, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Locate your SHIP online using the SHIP Locator or by calling 877-839-2675 (mention “Medicare” when prompted).

Lastly, familiarize yourself with how to amend your Medicare health and drug coverage.

You can employ government-provided services to alter your Medicare coverage. Dial 1-800-MEDICARE for phone assistance or visit to compare options and enroll in certain plans online. You can also contact plans directly to understand the services they cover or to enroll. Ensure you confirm all information a plan provides before finalizing your decision and obtain all details in writing. Before enrolling, contact your doctors to verify they are within the provider network of the plan you wish to join.