Each year between October 15 and December 7, Medicare offers an open enrollment period during which beneficiaries can make changes among several coverage options:
Original Medicare is administered directly by the federal government and includes standardized premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance payments. Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans are administered by private companies approved by Medicare; premiums, deductibles, copays, and coinsurance payments vary by plan.
During the open enrollment period, Medicare beneficiaries can do the following, with changes becoming effective on January 1:
Enrollees in a Medicare Advantage plan who want to change back to Original Medicare can also do so from January 1 to February 14, with Original Medicare coverage beginning the first day of the following month. Those who make this change have until February 14 to join a Medicare prescription drug plan, with coverage beginning the first day of the month after the plan receives the enrollment form.
An additional opportunity, from December 8 to November 30 of the following year, allows Medicare beneficiaries to switch to a top-rated "5-star" Medicare Advantage plan, prescription drug plan, or Medicare Cost plan (a coverage option in certain areas of the country). Medicare rates these plans every year, and a 5-star rating is considered excellent. You can use the star ratings to compare plans based on quality and performance.
For more on Medicare enrollment, visit medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans.
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