Source: North Jersey.com
The Medicare Open Enrollment period starts on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7 each year. It is during this time of year that you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or change plans. You can also review and change your Medicare Part D during this period.
However, do note that you will have an initial enrollment period (IEP) at the time you turn 65 or a special enrollment period (SEP) when you leave employer-sponsored coverage if you have worked past your 65th birthday.
But is this the only time of year you can sign up for Medicare if you are planning on retiring during the coming year? Not at all.
If you are planning on retiring at the time you turn 65, you will be able to enroll in Medicare starting the three months before your birthday month, and coverage will take effect on the first of your birthday month. If you are retiring past the age of 65, you will be able to enroll in Medicare to be effective the first of the month, to coordinate with when employer-sponsored coverage ends.
If you are already on Medicare and have a Medicare Part D plan (Part D is prescription coverage), you can only change plans during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. Whether or not you should change plans is the next question. If you have been on a Medicare Part D plan for several years, you may wish to take a look at your plan compared to the other options available for 2016. If the prescriptions you take have changed during the course of the year, we recommend reevaluating if your current plan is still the best for you. Finally, if you have received a letter from the carrier stating that it is dropping a drug you are currently taking, it would behoove you to review plans for 2016.
Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to original Medicare. If you have elected a Medicare Advantage plan in lieu of original Medicare, and want to change plans, the only time you can do so is during open enrollment. There are a few exceptions to this rule. One exception to this would be if you have been enrolled in a plan for less than a year. Another would be if you have moved out of the coverage area.
In summary, you can change a part D plan, or change a Medicare Advantage plan, or change from a Medicare Advantage plan to traditional Medicare during open enrollment. Unless you have a special enrollment period that happens to coincide with this time of year, it is not the time to enroll in Medicare.
By Betsy Chandler, a licensed insurance professional with MIC Insurance Services, a health insurance services company. If you have questions abut Medicare or related topics, you can call her at 973-492-2828.