Most people know that the annual Medicare enrollment period is October 15 through December 7. A barrage of commercials featuring aging sports icons and actors not seen on television for decades begins in early October and ends well after the holidays. But there is another enrollment period called the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) from January 1 through March 31 in which you can still change your benefits plan if you are not satisfied with your previous choice. This coincidentally coincides with the public open enrollment period for Medicare during which you can sign up for Medicare if you fail to do so during the initial enrollment period (when you turn 65).
During this OEP period, you can change to a different Medicare Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare (and enroll in a Part D drug plan). If you want to add a Medicare supplement plan, you may have to continue underwriting (answer medical questions) unless you have been in your benefits plan for less than a year or have a special enrollment period that applies (such as moving out of the service area of your benefits plan) .
Reasons you might not be happy with your original choice include: Discovering your doctor or doctors are not in the plan’s network Discovering that some of your drugs aren’t in the plan’s prescription book Discovering that the cost of your drugs in the plan is higher than expected Research on the network of available doctors and specialists is very limited
Whatever the reason, you’ll be able to change your plan and won’t have to wait until October 15th when the annual enrollment period begins again. If you choose a plan in January, your new plan will start on February 1. If you wait until March, your effective date will be April 1. Unlike the annual enrollment period during which you can make several choices with the last application submitted being the plan you end up in, you will only have one chance to choose a plan during the OEP.