The Medicare Open Enrollment Period, also known as Annual Enrollment, for 2020 starts on Thursday, October 15, 2020, and ends on Monday, December 7, 2020.

Keep reading to learn what you can do during open enrollment periods, and who’s eligible.

During this open Medicare election period, you can:

  • change from original Medicare (Part A and Part B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C)
  • change from a Medicare Advantage plan to original Medicare
  • switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • switch from a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage
  • switch from a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan without prescription drug coverage
  • join a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D)
  • drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage

During this Medicare election period, you might consider changing your Medicare plan because:

  • Your needs have changed. Maybe you’ve increased or decreased your need for access to health care services or your prescriptions have changed.
  • You want to keep or get certain coverage now available in a different plan (the benefits offered by Medicare plans can change from year to year).
  • There may be a more affordable plan available that meets your needs as well as, or even better than, your current coverage.

You’re eligible for original Medicare (Part A and Part B) if you’re 65 years old and:

  • are a U.S. Citizen or a permanent legal resident of the U.S. for 5 years (contiguous)
  • have worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits (you or your spouse)
  • are a government employee who has not paid into Social Security but has, while working, paid Medicare payroll taxes (you or your spouse)

If you are under 65 years old, you can meet the eligibility requirements if you:

  • have end stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as end stage kidney disease
  • have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for 24 months
  • receive a disability pension from the RRB

  • Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): 7 months, starts 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday and ends 3 months after the month of your 65th birthday
  • General Enrollment Period (GEP): 3 months, January 1 through March 31 (if you didn’t sign up for original Medicare Parts A and B during your IEP and you’re not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP): based on personal situation, such as a move or previous coverage under a group health plan
  • Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: 3 months, January 1 through March 31 (at which time you can leave a Medicare Advantage plan or switch Medicare Advantage plans)

  • Medicare Part A: hospital insurance for inpatient hospital care, long-term care (hospitals), and skilled nursing facility care
  • Medicare Part B: medical insurance for medically necessary services and preventive services
  • Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage plans that bundle Medicare parts A and B and usually Part D and often include other benefits such as dental and vision (offered by private companies approved by Medicare)
  • Medicare Part D: prescription drug insurance

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15, 2020, to December 7, 2020.

During this open Medicare election period, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage, because:

  • Your health care needs have changed and you want Medicare coverage that reflects these new needs.
  • The benefits offered by your Medicare Advantage plan have changed and you want a plan with coverage that addresses these changes, or a new plan is available with coverage that is better for you than your current plan.
  • The costs have changed on your Medicare Advantage plan or new lower-cost plans are available and you see an opportunity to get a more affordable plan that better suits your needs.