Medicare's annual open enrollment people is October 15 - December 7. But there are other opportunities to change your coverage during the year.

How to apply for Medicare and when:

Nearly 63 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare

Medicare is the federal health insurance program created to provide a safety net for senior citizens as well as disabled enrollees who meet specific criteria. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that nearly 62.75 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare as of mid-2020. All of these people have an opportunity to make various changes to their coverage during the annual fall enrollment period (October 15 through December 7).

Eligibility depends on your age, other variables

For the vast majority of Americans who look forward to receiving Medicare health benefits, eligibility is as uncomplicated as celebrating your 65th birthday. But eligibility isn’t dependent solely on your age.

When can you enroll in Medicare?

Medicare open enrollment 2021 guide

The 2021 Medicare Open Enrollment Guide offers tips for reevaluating your Medicare coverage – and explains how  you can make plan changes. Medicare open enrollment runs from October 15 through Dec. 7.

Millions of Americans are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B at age 65. Others have an enrollment window during which they can sign up for Medicare when they’re turning 65, and still others gain eligibility for Medicare due to a disability or diagnosis of ALS or end-stage renal disease. It’s important to know Medicare open enrollment dates for initial enrollment and beyond.

A quick look at Medicare enrollment dates
October 15 – December 7, 2020 Medicare’s next annual open enrollment
January 1 – March 31 You can sign up for Medicare Part A or B if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible.
January 1 – March 31 The opportunity for people already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or back to Original Medicare.
December 8, 2020 – November 30, 2021 You may be able to switch to a new Advantage or Part D plan if there’s a 5-star plan in your area.
Any time You can apply for Medigap at any time, but in most states, your application will be subject to medical underwriting if you’re not in your initial six-month eligibility window.

You can change your Medicare coverage

The annual Medicare open enrollment period (October 15 through December 7) is just one of a handful of opportunities to swap out your Medicare plan.

Wide range of Medicare coverage options

Medicare includes Parts A, B, C (Medicare Advantage), and D (prescription coverage). And there are also Medigap plans available in every state. Deciding which Medicare coverage is right for you is definitely not as easy as a multiple-choice question with a single right answer. Here’s an overview of your Medicare plan options and other helpful articles:

The cost of Medicare coverage varies

Your eligibility to receive Medicare Part A coverage without having to pay a premium – and your eligibility for other Medicare plans – depends on such factors as your work history and age. And depending on when you enroll in a Medigap plan, your health status.

Frequently asked questions about Medicare

Medicare glossary terms