Each year, Medicare beneficiaries are allowed to re-shop their Medicare benefits to find a plan that works well for them. While many plans automatically renew, many beneficiaries still prefer to take the time to compare their options when they can.
Depending on what kind of Medicare plan you have, there are only certain times of year you can shop and make changes to your coverage. For many, the last chance to make changes in 2021 is during the Annual Enrollment Period, which takes place Oct. 15 - Dec. 7.
Original Medicare Enrollment Period
If you have Original Medicare (or Medicare Parts A and B), there is no need to shop. This coverage is provided by the federal government and is the same for everyone! If, however, you’re interested in dropping your Original Medicare in favor of a Medicare Advantage plan, you need to act during the Annual Medicare Enrollment Period.
Medicare Supplement Enrollment Period
If you have a Medicare Supplement plan alongside your Original Medicare coverage, you can actually re-shop this coverage at any time! There’s no need to wait for an enrollment period.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period
If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Annual Enrollment Period is the only time of year you can re-shop or change your policy (barring any special circumstances). If you received a Plan Non-Renewal Notice, or have concerns about what you saw in your Annual Notice of Change, it’s time to take action! You only have a limited amount of time to make changes before 2022.
Part D Enrollment Period
If you need or want to change your Part D Plan, the Annual Enrollment Period is the only time of year you can do it (barring any special circumstances). If you have a plan, be sure to review your Annual Notice of Change to make sure your prescriptions, pharmacy, and location are still covered and in your budget.
If you don’t have a plan, it’s important that you sign up for Part D as soon as you can. Be prepared for the unexpected — don’t go another year without this important coverage! Oct. 15 - Dec. 7 is your last chance to enroll before the new year.
Other Medicare Enrollment Periods
Besides the Annual Enrollment Period, there are a few other times that you can enroll and make changes to your coverage.
- Initial Enrollment Period: When you first become eligible for Medicare, you’re granted a 7-month time period to enroll in your chosen plan. This typically happens around your 65th birthday (but some people become eligible earlier due to disability or sickness).
- General Enrollment Period: If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you can enroll in Medicare Jan. 1 - Mar. 31. Your coverage will start in July, but you may be subject to late enrollment penalties in some cases.
- Special Enrollment Period: When life happens, you need to make sure you update your coverage. If you have a qualifying life event (like relocation, change in marital status, or change in employment), you’re granted an enrollment period to update your coverage to a plan that works for your new lifestyle.
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment: If you’re a new enrollee to Medicare Advantage and it’s not quite working as well as you hoped, you have the option to make a one-time switch Jan. 1 - Mar. 31.
How to shop during Medicare’s Enrollment Periods 2021
No matter when or why you’re shopping, the process can be time-consuming. Even if you’ve figured out which plan type you want, there are dozens of plans and carriers to choose from.
Gathering all of this information from trusted sources can be difficult. That’s why United Medicare Advisors is out to change the Medicare shopping experience. We can help you shop, compare, and enroll in Medicare Supplement all in one easy phone call!
An independent, Licensed Insurance Agent works with you one-on-one to identify your health needs, lifestyle, and budget. Then, they’ll research plans available in your area, help you find applicable discount programs (if available), and show you carrier rates side-by-side. If you find a plan you like, they’ll even help you enroll on the spot!
When you’re ready to shop, give us a call at (855) 665-9200 or visit our Plan Comparison Tool to get started.
Published: October 21, 2021