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Am I required to make changes during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)—also called Medicare Open Enrollment—is an important time of year for Medicare beneficiaries, which means many people have questions about it.

One question we hear a lot is:

Am I required to make changes during Annual Enrollment?

The short answer is no. If you’re satisfied with your Medicare coverage, you’re not required to do anything during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.

However, there are a number of reasons you might choose to make changes to your coverage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.

Reason #1: You find coverage that’s a great fit for you.

The terms of a Medicare Advantage or Part D (prescription drug) Plan may change each year. Some are small changes, but others may significantly impact the cost of the plan or the available benefits. Those changes may mean the plan you’re enrolled in is no longer the right plan for you. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is a good time to take a look at the other Medicare Advantage Plans available in your area and see if any of them might be a better fit for you.

Reason #2: You want additional benefits.

If you’re not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is probably the best time to consider enrolling in one. A Medicare Advantage Plan includes all the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B (Original Medicare), and often has additional benefits, such as vision, dental, hearing, fitness, and prescription drug coverage. There may even be $0 premium, $0 copay, or $0 deductible plans in your area, opening the possibility of additional benefits at no additional cost.

Note: individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan must continue to pay Medicare Part B premiums.

Reason #3: You need prescription drug coverage.

Prescription drug coverage isn’t included in Original Medicare, and there are fees related to not having prescription drug coverage. You can enroll in a standalone Part D Plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. Many Medicare Advantage Plans also include prescription drug coverage and allow you to bundle your Medicare Parts A, B, and D coverage, while sometimes offering additional benefits.

If you don’t have prescription drug coverage or want to bundle your coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is an excellent opportunity to make these changes to your health insurance.

Get help with Medicare Enrollment

If you have questions about Medicare Plans in your area or want assistance enrolling in a plan, our Medicare Advocates are standing by to provide your no-cost consultation. Just call 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Alternatively, you can find, compare, and enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans through the Medicare Online Enrollment Portal.

More Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Resources

How to Prepare for Medicare's Annual Enrollment Period

7 Important Facts About the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

What Happens if You Miss the Medicare Enrollment Period?