The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) starts today! What does this mean? It means that starting today, October 15, 2020, millions of eligible adults can enroll in Medicare. However, you may still have questions about the annual Open Enrollment Period such as: Who qualifies to enroll during this period? How long does it last? Finally, can existing Medicare beneficiaries switch plans during the Open Enrollment Period?

Who Can Enroll During the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period is primarily designed to give people a chance to sign up if they missed their Initial Enrollment Period. So, if you qualify for Medicare but did not sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period, the Medicare OEP gives you a chance to sign up for the upcoming calendar year. This is particularly useful for older adults who delayed receiving their Social Security benefits and forgot to sign up for Medicare when they turned 65.

How Long Does the Medicare OEP Last? 

As previously stated, the Medicare OEP begins today, October 15th, 2020. It lasts for a little under two months, coming to an official close on December 7th. Keep in mind that if you don’t enroll during the Open Enrollment Period, you may have to wait a whole year for the 2021 Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

Can Existing Medicare Beneficiaries Switch Plans During the Open Enrollment Period?

In short, yes, you can make changes to your existing Medicare plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. For example, if you only signed up for Medicare Part A during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can sign up for Part B during Medicare OEP. Additionally, you can add Part D prescription drug coverage or switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you already have Medicare and you miss the Medicare OEP, don’t stress. You can still switch to a Medicare Advantage plan during the annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. This period goes from January 1st to March 31st. During this time, you can also switch between different Medicare Advantage plans.

Are There Any Penalties for Missing My Initial Enrollment Period?

If you missed your Initial Enrollment Period, you may face higher costs down the road. For example, when you sign up for Medicare during the annual Open Enrollment Period, you may have to pay higher premiums. Additionally, you may face some penalties for signing up for Part B late.

The Bottom Line

If you missed signing up for either Medicare Part A or Part B during your Initial Enrollment Period, the Medicare OEP is the perfect time to get it done. That said, the Medicare OEP is not just for people who missed out on their Initial Enrollment Period. The Medicare OEP is also a great time to add Part D coverage, switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or shop for a better Medicare Advantage plan.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, contact Time for 65’s licensed partnered agents today. click here or (866) 399-4330 today to see how we can help.