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What is Medicare open enrollment? When does the period start? Dates, datelines and details

Open enrollment for Medicare begins 15 October and those that need to sign up or change plans will have around seven weeks to do so. What you need to know…

Medicare open enrollment, what you need to know…

That time of year has rolled around once more when those who qualify for or have Medicare must choose a new plan or stick with the one they have. There’s good news for the vast majority of beneficiaries of Medicare in that the costs will decrease on all plans except Part A.

However, “about 99 percent of beneficiaries do not have a Part A premium since they have at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment,” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The average cost of Medicare Advantage plans will also reduce in 2023. Here’s a look at what to know before you choose a plan.

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Choice of Medicare plans

Enrollees can choose between Original Medicare, which includes both Part A and Part B, Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription drug plans.

Open enrollment for Medicare plans in 2023

Medicare enrollees will have just over seven weeks to sign up for their 2023 plan. Those who want to stay on their current Medicare coverage do not need to re-enroll. However, the costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so it is recommended to have a look at the coverage choices available each year. That way you can choose which options best meet your health needs.

Enrollment begins 15 October and runs through 7 December. You can find information and compare personalized options for health and drug coverage with the Medicare Plan Finder at The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated the Medicare Plan Finder with Medicare health and prescription drug plan information for 2023.

You can also call to get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week with which plan would be best for you at 1-800-MEDICARE. Information is available in both English and Spanish, in addition to language support in over 200 languages. For one-on-one assistance enrollees can contact their State Health Insurance Programs.

There are three major “Parts” of Medicare:

How is Medicare structured?

  • 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.

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B

Most retirees receive Medicare Part A coverage for free because they paid Medicare taxes throughout their careers over the 40 quarters required, equivalent to 10 years. Those who don’t qualify for free Medicare part A could pay between $278 and $506 a month in 2023, an increase of $4 and $7 per month in premiums respectively over last year.

For the first time in around a decade Medicare Part B premiums will see a decrease. The 3 percent drop will be a relief after they spiked 15 percent last year, the largest in history. the standard monthly premium will drop to $164.90 in 2023 according to CMS. Likewise, the annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is predicted to drop to $226 next year, a decrease of $7 from the previous year.

More Medicare Advantage Plans

Some seniors elect to add additional coverage for things like vision and dental through a Part C or Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage is a private plan alternative to Original Medicare. It provides additional health benefits to Part A and Part B under one plan. Those services can include eyewear, hearing aids and dental benefits, among other features. The number of people enrolling in the program is expected to 31.8 million in 2023.

Since 2017 the average number of Medicare Advantage plans which enrollees can choose from has steadily risen. In 2021 there was a choice on average of 33 plans for beneficiaries, up from 19 four years prior, and is expected to increase again in 2023. The average monthly premium in 2023 for Medicare Advantage will decrease from $19.52 down to $18 per month, a drop of 8 percent. At the same time, in 2023 the average monthly Part D premiums will be $31.50 compared to $32.08 in 2022.

For the full scope of information regarding getting healthcare coverage through Medicare in 2023, the federal government provides an official handbook.

Important dates for Medicare

September & October

You will want to review your current plan as it may have changed and compare other plans that are available to see if they better meet your needs.

15 October

Open Enrollment begins, when everyone with Medicare can switch their health and drug plans for the next year.

7 December

Open Enrollment ends and your enrollment request must be received by the plan that you have chosen. For most this is the last day that you can change your Medicare coverage.

1 January

If you’ve chosen to switch your Medicare plan, the new coverage begins 1 January. If you don’t switch plans, any changes to coverage, benefits, or costs that have been announced will take effect at the start of the year.

Between 1 January and 31 March

For those in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have the option to switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan or to Original Medicare during this period. Your Medicare Advantage Plan can be with or without drug coverage. For those who opt to change to Original Medicare, you’ll also have the option to join a Medicare drug plan.

The new coverage will begin the first day of the month after your enrollment form is received by the plan.

Special Enrollment Period

In certain cases, if you qualify, you may be able to make other changes in a Special Enrollment Period.


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