Whether you have original Medicare, Medicare Advantage or a Part D prescription drug plan, you have one opportunity each year to make any changes you want. This opportunity is Medicare's open enrollment period, also called the Medicare Annual Election Period.
Open enrollment begins on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7. Any changes you make will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Medicare plan benefits and your needs can change on an annual basis, so use the open enrollment period to compare your options and get the right fit.
During this past year, have you: Changed the medications you take? Been diagnosed with a new medical condition? Any of those changes could mean your current Medicare plan no longer meets your needs.
Medicare plans also change. The costs of your plan can go up or down, and prescription drugs can be added or dropped from the list of drugs (the formulary) included in your plan. Some Medicare plans change the benefits they offer or stop offering coverage in a particular location.
Because of such changes, you should check your current Medicare plan and, if necessary, switch to another one that fits you better.
You can compare the plans available in your area, and enroll in a new plan if you choose, by visiting Medicare.gov or calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). Another option for information and enrolling is to call the plan of your choice or visit its website.