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When does medicare open enrollment begin? What is the deadline and how do I enroll? 

The Medicare open enrollment period is slated to begin on 15 October, giving beneficiaries seven weeks to evaluate their healthcare options for 2022.

The Medicare open enrollment period is slated to begin on 15 October, giving beneficiaries seven weeks to evaluate their healthcare options for 2022.

Medicare enrollment begins on 15 October, and those interested in signing up are given until 7 December. During this time, beneficiaries will have the chance to select Medicare Advantage Plan or a prescription drug plan (Part D) in addition to the standard Medicare Plan, which includes Parts A and B.

There are three major “Parts” of Medicare:

What are the various 'Parts' of Medicare?

  • Part A: which covers hospital stays, skilled nursing, and hospice services;
  • Part B: which covers outpatient services, most doctors visits, and most drugs that need to be administered by medical professionals; and
  • Part D: which covers most “self-administered” prescriptions.

Some seniors elect to add additional coverage for things like vision and dental through a Part C or Medicare Advantage plan.

Those already enrolled and wish to make no changes to their status or plan are not required to re-enroll; their past selection will be reapplied for the coming year.

However, each year during the enrollment period, beneficiaries are advised to review changes made to the cost of Medicare to ensure that the plans they have selected suit their needs best. Information to compare personalized options relating to health services and prescription drug coverage can be found using the Medicare Plan Finder at Medicare.gov. Enrollment can also be completed through the website.

As of 1 October, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMM) has up-to-date information regarding the plans that will be available next year.

Do the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services support those who have questions about their various options?

Yes. Anyone looking to enroll can get support from the CMM, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. State Health Insurance Programs can also provide one-on-one assistance to enrollees.

Additionally, the organization has published supplemental materials in both English, Spanish, and many other languages.

Greater access to Medicare Advantage Plans in 2022

Late last month, the CMM announced that it would be increasing the amount of Medicare Advantage plans offered. The decision follows a steady increase in this type of plan since its creation in 2003.

Medicare Advantage consists of private plans that can be bought, in most cases, to cover services that are not included in Medicare Parts A and B. The most common services sought after in these plans include eyewear, hearing aids, and dental benefits, but some companies have other benefits like gym and fitness membership to increase interest.

Currently, around a third of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in an Advantage plan. The number of people enrolling in the program is expected to rise by nearly 3 million to 29.5 million in 2022.

This year the CMM has announced that the number of Medicare Advantage Plans available to those with a chronic illness will increase from nineteen to twenty-five percent. In recent years, those with chronic illnesses have driven up enrollment in these plans as they can help seniors with costly medical issues keep the price of care down.