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A Special Notice to Washington Residents, or those from Oregon or Idaho who work in Washington

What Do I Need To Know For Medicare Open Enrollment?

February 21, 2021

The first thing you need to know about Medicare open enrollment is the time frame. The window for fall open enrollment begins on October 15 and runs through December 7. Fall open enrollment is also called the annual election period.

Any changes you make during this enrollment period become effective on January 1 of the following year. You can enroll in, drop, or switch your Medicare plan coverage. If you are already enrolled in Medicare, open enrollment allows you to evaluate your existing plan, compare it to what is currently on the market, and update your healthcare coverage for the coming year.

What Should You Know For Medicare Fall Open Enrollment?

Before you begin the process of making health coverage choices during the fall open enrollment period, there are certain things you should know, including the following:

  • The time frame: Start evaluating your options early. Don’t let your window of opportunity to make needed changes slip by.
  • How satisfied you are with your current coverage: Review your current plan. If you have Original Medicare, look at the annual handbook on to learn more about costs and benefits in the coming year. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the company should have sent you an Annual Notice of Change or Evidence of Coverage. Note any changes in plan costs and benefits.
  • What is currently on the market: Even if you are satisfied with your current plan, there may be something better on the market for the coming year.
  • Where help is available: The Plan Finder tool on is helpful for finding and comparing Part D plans. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE for a list of Medicare Advantage plans in your area. Contact the plan itself to make sure your doctors and providers are in your network. Our experienced agent is also happy to answer any questions you may have.

What Can You Change During Fall Open Enrollment?

From October 15 to December 7, you can:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan, or vice versa
  • Drop your existing Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in another
  • Join a Medicare prescription drug plan
  • Switch from one prescription drug plan to another
  • Drop your prescription drug coverage altogether

What Is Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment?

The Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (MA OEP) runs from January 1 through March 31. Changes take effect on the first day of the month following the month you enroll. This enrollment period is not for people who already have Original Medicare. If you are dissatisfied with a Medicare Advantage plan chosen during fall open enrollment, you can switch plans during MA OEP.

You also have the option to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, with or without a Part D (prescription drug) plan at this time. You should know that if you go back to Original Medicare, you may not be able to purchase a Medigap (Medicare supplement insurance) policy.

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Below is a link to the state of Washington government website that oversees the state mandated long-term care insurance program known as the Cares Fund. The website provides up-to-date, real time information about how the program is being administered, recommended improvements to the plan from a special oversight taskforce, and the ability to participate in Zoom meetings relating to the Cares Fund and the opportunity to provide comments and suggestions to state legislators and administrators of the program.