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Medicare Open Enrollment

Video provided by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Benefit counselors of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) are available to assist Medicare beneficiaries in navigating the federal program’s open enrollment process. During the annual open enrollment period, benefit counselors educate seniors about their Medicare options and which options may best suit their needs. While they provide information about Medicare options and the open enrollment process, counselors do not select a senior’s plan for them.
Medicare Open Enrollment starts on Oct. 15 and is when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare coverage. Beneficiaries can do this by joining a new Medicare Advantage plan or by joining a new stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP). They also can return to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone Part D plan from a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare beneficiaries can contact AAACAP benefit counselor at 512-916-6062 or 888-622-9111 ext. 6062 for assistance.

Remember This

Medicare beneficiaries should remember the following information while they are deciding on Medicare coverage.

1. Medicare Open Enrollment occurs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 every year.

  • If they enroll in a plan during Medicare Open Enrollment, their coverage starts Jan. 1.
  • In most cases, Medicare Open Enrollment is the only time they can pick a new Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan.
  • If they have Medicare Advantage, they also can switch to Original Medicare. To get Medicare drug coverage, they must join a stand-alone Part D plan.

2. Review your current Medicare health and drug coverage. 

  • If they have Original Medicare, review next year's Medicare & You Handbook to identify their Medicare costs and benefits for the upcoming year. If they are unsatisfied with their Original Medicare coverage, they can make change to their coverage during the open enrollment period. Coverage changes will take effect Jan. 1 of the next year.
  • If they have a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Part D plan, they should receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and/or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their plan. They should review the notices for any changes in the plan's costs, benefits and rules for the upcoming year. If they are dissatisfied with any changes, they can make changes to their coverage during open enrollment to be effective Jan. 1.
  • Beneficiaries who are satisfied with their Medicare coverage should review other Medicare options in their area to see if other options better suit their needs. Another plan in their area may offer better health and/or drug coverage at a more affordable price. Research shows people with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) could lower their costs by shopping among plans each year.

3. Help is out there.

  • Call the Area Agency on Aging at 1-888-622-9111 or 512-916-6062.
  • Visit and use the Plan Finder to search or review available plans.

> Go to

4. Understand the difference between the Medicare Open Enrollment Period and Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplaces.

  • The Health Insurance Marketplaces will hold open enrollment for uninsured or underinsured Americans. The Marketplaces are not meant for people with Medicare. People with Medicare should not use this open enrollment period to purchase or change their health care.
  • People with Medicare should continue to use the Medicare Open Enrollment Period to review and make changes to their health coverage.

Newly Medicare eligible seniors

For those who will be newly Medicare eligible due to turning 65, they should do their research early especially if you are still employed at that 65.

> Download the What do when you Turn 65 manual from NCOA.

More Medicare Open Enrollment information

> Visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Open Enrollment outreach and media web page for several articles about the open enrollment period.

Watch the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services video series.

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