Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: Is It Time to Update Your Coverage?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, October 15th – December 7th, is when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage for the upcoming year. Meet with an experienced advisor at no cost to review your options and choose the plans that work best for your evolving medical and financial needs.

The enrollment process for Medicare can be tricky. There are multiple enrollment periods that offer the chance for enrollees to sign up for plans, make changes or disenroll from Medicare plans. Each enrollment period has specific and limited options. It’s important to be informed of these periods to ensure you receive the right plan for your needs and avoid potential penalties.

Below is a basic summary of the various federal government’s Medicare enrollment periods — starting with the Annual Enrollment Period that’s quickly approaching!

Confused by Medicare parts and plans? Get an overview on the A, B, C and D’s of Medicare!

Fall Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period (AEP)

  • Switch or sign up for new Medicare plans.
  • Dates October 15 – December 7, 2020
  • Changes go into effect January 1, 2021

AEP is a chance for those who didn’t sign up for a Medicare plan during the Initial Enrollment Period or those who want to make any changes to their Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. breaks down your options during AEP:1

  • Switch from Original (Parts A and B) to Medicare Advantage (Part C) or vice versa.
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or switch to another Medicare Advantage plan (switch to one including prescription drug insurance or one that excludes prescription drugs).
  • Change, drop or sign up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D).

Other Medicare Enrollment Periods

  • Initial Enrollment Period is the seven months around your 65th birthday when you can start signing up for Original Medicare. If you’re turning 65 and receive Social Security, you’re automatically enrolled. During this time, you can also sign up for prescription drug coverage and Medicare Advantage if you have Original Medicare.
  • General Enrollment Period, following the Initial Enrollment Period, is another opportunity to sign up for Original Medicare coverage, between January 1st and March 31st (penalty may apply). If you missed your initial enrollment period when you first had Medicare eligibility, this is your second chance. Coverage takes effect July 1st.
  • Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period is between January 1st and March 31st. During this time, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, switch to Medicare hospital insurance and Medicare Advantage plans, or enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug coverage plan. The month following your enrollment submission is when it takes effect.
  • Special Election Period is also known as the Five-Star Enrollment Period, which is December 8th – November 30th. Coverage is effective the month after your enrollment submission. During this time, you can sign up for or switch to a five-star Medicare Advantage plan or Part D prescription plan, if available in your county. Five-star means the contract earned a top rating.

    This period is also an opportunity to enroll in Original Medicare. You may have decided that since you have health coverage from another source, you’re going to delay part B, especially since it has a monthly premium. Once that coverage ends, you may sign up during this special enrollment period.
  • Medicare Supplement Enrollment is the best time to buy a Medigap plan, which helps cover additional sizeable costs of Original Medicare (you must be enrolled in Part A and B and be a resident of the service area). EHealth Medicare explains that you can purchase a Medigap plan starting on the first day of the month that you enrolled in Part B. You must be 65 or older, and this period lasts for six months.”2

It's good to review your coverage every year based on your evolving healthcare and financial needs and changing coverage options. Desert Financial’s experienced advisors can help you find or switch to the coverage that’s right for you at no extra charge. Plus, get the facts you need during our free educational online seminar. RSVP today! We’re taking the mystery out of Medicare!

Medicare is Complex: We’re Here for You!

Work with an experienced advisor to find the right Medicare-approved insurance for your specific needs.



The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.