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Medicare Part C and D Open Enrollment Periods

Open Enrollment Periods are:

  • In 2012 the yearly open enrollment period for Medicare Part C and D is from October 15th to December 7th
  • When You First Get Medicare (Initial Enrollment Periods)
  • In Special Circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods)

The open enrollment periods for Medicare Part C and D are the times when you can enroll in the Prescription Drug or Advantage plan of your choice.  The Part C and D plans are on a yearly contract that will begin on January 1st (in the case of yearly enrollment) and end on December 31st.

This is not to be confused with the Guaranteed Issue Period for Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans.

Medicare Part C – Advantage Plans

Medicare Part C is a private insurance option to receive your Medicare Part A and B benefits.    

Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients. 

Yearly Open Enrollment Period

This is the period from October 15th to December 7th each year when you can change your Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Plan.  This is by far the most popular and talked about period of open enrollment, this is simply because it affects every Medicare recipient regardless of special situations.  If you do not specify a change in your current Part C or D plan then you will remain in the plan that you currently have.  If you wish to change your Advantage or Prescription Drug plan then you must sign up for a new plan during this yearly open enrollment period.  You do not need to do anything to be disenrolled from your previous plan, the switch will happen automatically.  It is important to reevaluate your Medicare Part C and D plan each year to ensure you do not overpay and have the best plan available.  Go to our How to Choose a Medicare Part D Plan webpage for a detailed description on how to use the Medicare.gov website to find the best plan in your area.

Initial Open Enrollment Period

This is the period of time when are first eligible for Medicare benefits, this occurs for most people when they turn 65.  The initial open enrollment period is a 7 month period surrounding your 65 birthday.  An example of this is a man who turns 65 on April 11 will be in open enrollment from January 1st to July 31st.  (This is also the same period that you are in Guaranteed Issue for Medicare Supplements)

Special Enrollment Periods

Common examples of Special enrollment periods would be: the loss of employer sponsored insurance, Loss of Medicaid or extra help, You change the area that you live or pay taxes, Your plan changes its contract with Medicare, and other situations.