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Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare open enrollment for 2021 is underway. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the annual election period during which individuals can reassess and make changes to their Medicare coverage. From October 15 and going through December 7, you can decide whether your current plan, drug coverage, and other options are working for you – or whether new coverage would be practical.

When reviewing your coverage, you should note that there are some limitations on what you can and cannot do during the open enrollment period. It is also important to understand that not complying with the time restrictions can lead to late enrollment penalties.

Tasks to Consider During Open Enrollment

There are several changes you can make over the annual election period, though you should weigh the pros and cons before taking action. For example:

  • If you are currently enrolled in Part A and B, you can switch from basic Medicare to Medicare Advantage, providing you with such extra coverage as vision, hearing, and dental.
  • Individuals who currently have Medicare Advantage can change to the basic Medicare plan, and opt for Part D prescription coverage.
  • You may qualify to make changes within your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.
  • You can add Medicare Part D if you did not do so upon becoming eligible, though penalties may apply if you did not maintain other coverage in the interim.

What You Cannot Do During Medicare Open Enrollment

Note that the annual election does not apply to Medigap plans, those you may have purchased through a private company to cover such gaps as co-pays and deductibles. After your initial enrollment period, these policies are subject to special enrollment periods. In addition, you should keep in mind the following limitations:

  • If you missed the first enrollment period that you became eligible for Medicare coverage, you cannot take advantage of the Fall annual election. You will have to wait for the general enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, 2021.
  • The general enrollment period is also the time to enroll in Medicare Part A if you did not do so when you were first eligible. This plan covers hospitalization, nursing care, hospice, lab screenings, surgery, and other services.

For anyone who enrolls during the general enrollment period, coverage will begin on July 1.

Discuss Open Enrollment with an Elder Law Attorney

While this information may be useful in helping you understand the basics, there are many additional details about Medicare open enrollment that you need to know. Our team at the Nawrocki Center for Elder Law can explain the relevant concepts, so please contact us to set up a consultation. You can call 810-893-5277 or go online to reach our offices in West Branch and Brighton, MI.


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