Mark Your Calendar: Medicare Key Dates

Medicare has established new schedules for making changes to your coverage. Here’s what you need to know.

Medicare Key Dates© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

October 1–14
During these two weeks, private insurers announce all benefit and premium information for their Part C Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Plans for the coming year. This is your opportunity to see what might change with your current coverage and whether other policies might be more appropriate for you.

October 15–December 7
This is the Annual Election Period. It is the time each year you can change or enroll in a new Part C Medicare Advantage or Part D Prescription Drug Plan. If you make a change, your new coverage will start January 1.

January 1–February 14
This is the Annual Disenrollment Period. During this time, you can disenroll from your Part C Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare. If you choose to do so, you are allowed to choose a separate Medicare prescription drug plan at the same time. It becomes effective the first of the following month.

February 15–October 14
Most people cannot change their Medicare coverage during this time. Exceptions include if you’ve
• just turned 65
• moved out of your current plan’s service area
• have both Medicare and Medicaid
• lost your employer health coverage
• entered a nursing home
• involuntarily lost your prescription drug coverage.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest