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Medicare enrollment: dates, requirements, website, and 2021 prices

Those looking to make changes to their Medicare Plans will have from 15 October to 7 December. Here is what you need to know about the plans and prices.

Those looking to make changes to their Medicare Plans will have from 15 October to 7 December. Here is what you need to know about the plans and prices.
Lucy NicholsonREUTERS

Medicare open enrollment begins on 15 October, and those eligible will have until 7 December to select a Medicare Advantage Plan or a prescription drug Part D plan. All information needed to choose a plan will be available at Medicare.gov.

No actions need to be taken for those not looking to make any changes to their enrollment. However, each year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) works with insurers to offer different plans, and prices often shift.

Medicare Part A and B

There are four main parts of Medicare that allow members flexibility in building the insurance coverage they need.

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.

In August, the Boards of Trustees for Medicare released a report estimating that the premiums for Part B would increase $10 from the 2021 cost to $158. Any increases have yet to be confirmed by the CMS.

The information will be available at Medicare.gov.

Medicare Advantage Plans in 2022

This year the CMS has announced that the number of Medicare Advantage Plans will increase. Demand for these plans has grown over the last few years, and currently, around a third of Medicare members hold an Advantage Plan.  

In recent years, those with chronic conditions have driven increases in enrollment. 

The CMS announced that in 2022 the number of plans offering additional benefits for those who are chronically ill would increase from 19% to 25%. According to CMS, the average monthly premium in 2022 for Medicare Advantage will decrease from $21.22 to $19 per month.

Additionally, the CMS will continue to expand the Innovation Center’s Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model. This project aims to “tests the effect of offering a projected 3.7 million people customized benefits that are designed to better manage their disease(s) and meet a wide range of social needs, from food insecurity to social isolation.” In 2022, 1,000 more Medicate Advantage Plans of this nature will be made available.

Medicare Part D in 2022

Around one in three Medicare members are diabetic, and in recent years the CMS has launched the Part D Senior Savings Model to bring down the price of insulin. The CMS announced that this project will continue in 2022 and that to lower the price of insulin, “over 500 new Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans” will be added. Additionally, two new paramedical companies have signed onto the Model, which through increasing supply will ensure members have access to "a thirty-day supply of a broad set of plan-formulary insulins costs no more than $35."

However, overall premiums for Part D plans are expected to increase to $33 compared to $31.74 in 2021.