Open enrollment happens every year from the middle of October to the middle of December. It is the period of time when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. You can enroll in a new Medicare prescription drug plan, switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (and vice versa) or change Medicare Advantage plans.
When you’re first selecting a Medicare plan, you may be faced with an overwhelming number of choices. One of the most challenging parts of understanding Medicare is how the different parts fit together.
This article describes the differences between Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and Medicare Advantage (Part C). It also explains how Part D fits into the different plans. You’ll also learn what else to keep in mind as you are picking a plan.
Original Medicare (sometimes called Traditional Medicare) is insurance administered by the federal government. It consists of Part A, which covers hospital services, and Part B, which is medical insurance and covers expenses like doctor appointments, laboratory tests and X-rays.
If you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in other plans for additional coverage. You can add a Part D plan to cover prescription drugs. You can also select a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan, which helps pay for health care costs such as co-payments and coinsurance. You must have Medicare Part A and Part B in order to purchase a Medigap plan.
The Medigap Open Enrollment Period is a 6-month period which automatically starts the month you turn 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B. Learn more about Medigap enrollment.
Tip: If you have a chronic disease like psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, it’s generally a good idea to add a prescription drug plan and a Medigap plan to make sure that all your health care costs are covered as fully as possible.