Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period: What you need to know

Medicare plans can change each year—and so can your healthcare needs. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period which occurs each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, gives you the chance to review and make changes to your current Medicare coverage.

Here’s some information to help you prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment and get the most out of your Medicare coverage in 2024.

Key points

  • If you’re already enrolled in Medicare, you can make changes to your plan during open enrollment.
  • Medicare Open Enrollment for 2024 plans starts Oct. 15, 2023, and ends on Dec. 7, 2023.
  • Changes you make during 2023 open enrollment go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

When is the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, known as the “Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan annual election period,” “annual enrollment period” or “AEP,” takes place this year from Oct. 15, 2023, through Dec. 7, 2023. Medicare coverage changes go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, if the plan gets your request by Dec. 7, 2023. This is the primary time when people with Medicare can choose a plan, but there are other times during the year that may be called “open enrollment” or “special enrollment” periods when a person can enroll in a plan, which are explained in more detail below.1

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What can you do during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

People already enrolled in Medicare can make changes to their Medicare plan coverage, such as:1

What should I consider during Medicare’s Open Enrollment?

When shopping Medicare plans during open enrollment, some coverage details to consider include:

  • Out-of-pocket costs—premiums, deductibles, copayments and any other payments not covered by Medicare
  • Prescription drug coverage—eligibility requirements, medication coverage and costs, generic vs. brand name, etc.
  • Healthcare needs—any upcoming surgeries or doctor appointments you may have in the coming year
  • Travel plans—Original Medicare typically doesn’t cover services overseas, so if you plan on traveling out of the country, you might consider buying a supplemental insurance plan that will cover you in case of an emergency

What are the different parts of Medicare available during open enrollment?

All 4 parts of Medicare are available during the Open Enrollment Period.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B)

Original Medicare is provided by the Federal government and comes in 2 parts—Part A and Part B:

  • Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It has no premium cost if you’ve paid payroll taxes for at least 10 years.
  • Medicare Part B is medical insurance. It requires you to pay premiums, copays and deductibles, like private insurance companies. In 2024, the Part B premium is $174.70 or higher, depending on your income.

However, Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything. If you need prescription drugs or routine vision, dental or hearing care, you may want to consider additional coverage options.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)

Beyond Original Medicare, there is further coverage through Parts C and D:

  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) is offered by private insurers and often combines Parts A, B and D in 1 plan.
  • Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. It is an optional prescription drug plan offered through private companies.

Many Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for prescriptions and may offer dental, vision and hearing benefits. You may need to pay a monthly premium in addition to the Part B premium, but it may be worth it based on your needs.

Important Medicare enrollment dates to mark on your calendar

Important Medicare enrollment dates to mark on your calendar
Oct 15–Dec 7
Jan 1
Jan 1–Mar 1
Medicare Open Enrollment
Medicare changes take effect
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment (extra time for Medicare Advantage plan members to switch or drop their MA plan)

What if I miss Medicare’s Open Enrollment?

If you miss open enrollment, you’ll most likely be automatically re-enrolled in your plan if it’s still offered in your area. You’ll keep the same plan the following year as long as you continue paying any necessary premiums.

However, there are a few circumstances where you can change your plan outside of open enrollment. These circumstances include:

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP)—Generally, you can join or switch to another plan when certain events happen in your life, such as moving or losing other insurance coverage.
  • Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP)—If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare between Jan. 1 and March 31.
  • 5-star Special Enrollment Period—If a Medicare plan with a 5-star rating is available in your area, you can switch from your current Medicare plan to a Medicare plan with a “5-star” quality rating. You can use this Special Enrollment Period only once between Dec. 8 and Nov. 30 the following year.

Additional Medicare enrollment FAQs

Who can apply during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Only existing Medicare members can apply for a new plan unless they qualify for special enrollment at that time.

When can I first sign up for Medicare?

Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65, but your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month and continues 3 months after. 1

Because there is a delay from the date of your enrollment to when Medicare coverage starts, try to sign up for Medicare during the 3-month period before your birthday to avoid a gap in your coverage.

When is the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period?

If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) is when you can enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare. The dates for this enrollment period are Jan. 1–March 31.1

If needed, you can also add a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to your Medicare Advantage plan. Compare Medicare Part D plans to understand the difference between standalone prescription drug plans (PDP) and Medicare Advantage plans with a prescription drug plan (MAPD).

When is open enrollment for Medicare supplement insurance plans?

Your chance to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without medical underwriting is called the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. The timing of this enrollment period is unique for everyone. It’s a 6-month window that begins the first day of the month you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B and age 65 or older. For many people, this is the first day of the month they turn 65 years old. Some states have additional Open Enrollment Periods including those for people who are under age 65.2

The Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period is the best time to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan without answering health questions. Even if you have health problems, insurance companies cannot deny you a Medicare Supplement policy and must offer the same price as people with good health. If you apply after your open enrollment period, there is no guarantee that an insurance company will sell you a policy, unless you are eligible for a guaranteed issue right. If you’re under age 65 and have Medicare, you may not be able to buy a Medicare Supplement policy or the one you want until you turn 65.

Humana is here to help

Even if you’re happy with your current Medicare plan, it’s important to check for any changes next year and compare Medicare plan options, including Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. We’re here to help you make sense of it all so you can choose your plan with confidence.

Licensed Humana sales agents are just a phone call away. You can schedule an appointment to talk with a licensed Humana sales agent to explore your options.

You can also contact Medicare directly for more information by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) (TTY: 877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, or by visiting the Medicare website.

How can we help?

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1-888-204-4062 (TTY: 711)

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  1. “Joining a plan,”, last accessed September 18, 2023,
  2. “Get ready to buy,”, last accessed September 18, 2023,