Making changes to certain parts of Medicare can only be done at specific times each year. During open enrollment periods, changes to the Medicare prescription drug coverage and the Medicare Advantage plan can be done with each plan assigned a certain number of days for changes or enrollment. When these appointed times pass, individuals will have to wait until the next year during the open enrollment periods.
Individuals can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan between January 1 and March 31 of each year. If individuals already have a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage they can change their plan from the Advantage Plan to the original Medicare plan or they can change their Advantage Plan to a different one. They also can switch their current Advantage Plan that does not offer drug coverage to a Medicare plan that offers a prescription medication plan. This open enrollment period does not allow changes to be made to prescription drug plans.
For individuals who wish to join Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan they can do so between November 15 and December 31. Individuals can also switch their original Medicare plan to an Advantage Plan or vice-versa. They also have the option to change from one Advantage plan to another or to one that covers prescription drugs. This period is also the time to sign up for the Medicare prescription plan or drop it if the individual wishes to longer have it.
Although the two above mentioned open enrollment periods apply to certain time periods each year, there are special enrollment periods for individuals who experience certain events in their lives. These could include loss of other health care coverage or moving.