There’s so much to learn as you go about choosing a Medicare plan. We hope this roadmap and its helpful links will guide you to the plan that’s right for you. Bookmark this page for easy reference. The Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan Annual Election Period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
Easy tip to stay organized:
, opens new window to help you keep track of your Medicare information and compare plans you might be considering for 2021.
Confirm your eligibility
Visit , opens new window and answer a few simple questions to confirm your eligibility to enroll.
Be aware of important dates
If you’re new to Medicare, you can enroll anytime during the 3 months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and the 3 months after your 65th birthday.
If you want to change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan—or vice versa—the Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan Annual Election Period starts Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.
There is also an Open Enrollment Period just for Medicare Advantage members. It runs each year from Jan. 1 through March 31. During this time, you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare. Outside of the Annual Election Period and Open Enrollment Period, you would need to qualify for what’s called a Special Election Period to enroll in a new plan.
Know your Medicare Annual Election Period options
During the Annual Election Period, you can:
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
- Enroll in or disenroll from a Medicare prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D)
Review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC)
If you’re already a Medicare Advantage plan member, you’ll receive an ANOC letter each September. This document explains any plan changes that will go into effect in the coming year. It gives you some time to review any changes and decide if you want to stay with your current plan or switch to another plan or coverage option.
Do a little homework
Take some time to learn the A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s of Medicare:
- Part A – coverage for hospital visits
- Part B – coverage for medical/doctor visits
- Part C – Medicare Advantage—includes Part A and Part B; most plans include coverage for prescription drugs, and many include coverage for routine dental, vision and hearing all in 1 plan
- Part D – stand-alone prescription drug plans—can be paired with Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement plan or some Medicare Advantage private-fee-for-service (PFFS) plans
- Medicare Supplement Insurance plans – can only be added to an Original Medicare plan
Still on an employer’s group plan?
If you’re still working and covered by an employer’s group plan, learn more about how working past the age of 65 affects your Medicare options.
Think about which plan features are most important to you
When comparing plans, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my preferred doctor accept Medicare?
- What benefits do I need based on my current health status?
- Do I want or need any additional benefits like vision, dental or hearing care?
- Do I need coverage for prescription drugs?
Think about which type of plan fits your needs
There are 2 main ways to get your Medicare coverage:
- Original Medicare provides Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical/doctor visits) coverage.
- It does not provide coverage for prescription drug or dental, vision and hearing care.
- Most people don’t have to pay a premium for Part A; the 2021 monthly Part B premium is $148.50 (or higher depending on your income).
- Medicare Advantage plans offer all the benefits of Original Medicare, with the exception of hospice care.
- Most also include coverage for prescription drugs.
- Many include coverage for routine dental, vision and hearing care.
- Benefits are all wrapped up in 1 plan.
Want a clear comparison of your options? Review this complete , opens new window.
Know how to enroll in Original Medicare
Do you want to enroll in Original Medicare? You have 3 options:
- Apply online through the , opens new window.
- Apply by phone by calling 1-800-772-1213, Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. (TTY: 1-800-325-0778).
- Apply in person at your local , opens new window.