You can make changes to your Medicare coverage during a few key times.
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), October 15 – December 7
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, January 1 – March 31
The Medicare Special Enrollment Period for qualifying life events; dates vary based on qualifying event
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) happens every year October 15 to December 7. During this time, anyone with Medicare can make changes to their coverage for the following year.
What can I do during AEP?
During AEP, you can join, switch or drop a plan. For example, you can:
Enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
Switch to a different Medicare Advantage or stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan
Drop a Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare (Parts A & B). (If you do this, you may also need to get a Part D prescription drug plan if your former Medicare Advantage plan included drug coverage.
Replace a Medicare Advantage plan with a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP)
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is for current Medicare Advantage plan members. It runs from January 1 to March 31. During this time, Medicare Advantage plan members can revisit their plan choices and choose to make coverage changes.
You can do the following during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period:
Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare (Parts A & B).
Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D), if you go back to Original Medicare.
And similar to the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, if you choose to return to Original Medicare, you are now able to enroll in a Medicare supplement insurance plan, though you are not guaranteed coverage and could face higher costs.
Special Enrollment Period (SEP) – for Medicare Advantage or Part D members
Current Medicare enrollees may qualify for a unique 2- month Special Enrollment Period to switch to a different Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan due to a "qualifying life event."
You may qualify for a 2-month Special Enrollment Period in the following situations:
You move out of your plan's service area.
Your plan closes, stops serving the area where you live, significantly reduces its provider network or your plan consistently receives low Medicare star ratings.
You want to enroll in a 5-star plan at any time or drop your first Medicare Advantage plan within 12 months of enrolling.
You move into or out of a qualified institutional facility, like a nursing home.
You are enrolled in or lose eligibility for a qualified State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program.
You have Medicare financial assistance such as Medicaid, a Medicare Savings Program or Extra Help, or you gain or lose eligibility for any of these.
You enroll in or leave the Program of All-Inclusive Care for Elderly (PACE).
You gain or lose eligibility for a Special Needs Plan.
Some situations not listed here may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period as well. If you have questions about your personal situation, call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program for help.
What can I do during this time?
Switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.
If you return to Original Medicare, you can also enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan and/or Medicare supplement insurance plan.
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AARP® Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans
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Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Prescription Drug plans
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