Summary: The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage (Oct 15-Dec 7) and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (Jan 1-March 31) are opportunities to make changes to your Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare prescription drug coverage. There is no open enrollment period for Medicare Supplement.

How you receive your Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D benefits doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime decision. You have the opportunity to review –and change—your coverage every year. If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have a second chance each year to consider your Medicare coverage options. This is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

When is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 through March 31 every year. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is available only to people who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can do two things during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period:

  1. Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another; or
  2. Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to the federal government Medicare program. This provides you Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance.)

If you make this switch you can also enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. This is important because Medicare Part A and Part B usually don’t cover prescription drugs.

What’s the difference between the Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

The Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage, also called the Annual Election Period (AEP), runs from October 15th to December 7th each year. During this time, everyone with Medicare can make changes in how they will get their Medicare benefits during the upcoming year. This is true whether you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or the government’s Medicare program.

The chart below compares the changes you can make during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Type of Change Open Enrollment Period  for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage: Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period:
Jan.1 – Mar. 31
Change from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage plan YES NO
Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare (Parts A and B)

Add: Standalone Medicare Part D Plan (optional)

YES YES
Change, add, or drop a Medicare Part D plan YES In some cases*
Change from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another (with or without prescription drug coverage) YES YES

*You can disenroll from your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. If you choose to do so, you’ll be able to join a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

And remember, you may be charged a late enrollment penalty if you drop Part D coverage and want it again later.

When is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period used?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period gives people a chance to change their minds about their Medicare Advantage plan selection. For example, you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage HMO plan. Then you realized your doctor wasn’t in it. Your Medicare Advantage plan pays for covered services only when you used doctors in the plan’s HMO network. You are unwilling to change doctors. Instead you change plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

How do you make a change during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

You can simply enroll in the new Medicare Advantage plan by contacting the plan or using the Medicare.gov online enrollment during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

You can contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days a week  (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) or your current Medicare Advantage plan to switch to the federal Medicare program during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Your new plan should go into effect the beginning of the month after you make the change. Until then, you have coverage under the Medicare Advantage plan you originally selected.

Type in your zip code on this page to find Medicare Advantage plans where you live.