If your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan is ending at the close of the year, it is important to understand how you are affected and actions you should take to ensure you have needed coverage. If your plan is ending, it should send you a letter in early October explaining that it will no longer be available next year. However, your plan is still responsible for providing coverage for the remainder of the year. You should retain coverage until December 31, 2018.

In general, you have two opportunities to enroll in a new plan if your plan is ending at the close of the year:

  1. Fall Open Enrollment: This period occurs each year from October 15 through December 7. During it, you can join a new Medicare Advantage Plan or Part D plan, or switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Any change you make during Fall Open Enrollment will take effect January 1.
  2. Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Because your plan is ending, you have an SEP from December 8, 2018 through February 28, 2019 to change your Medicare health and drug coverage.
    1. Changes you make from December 8 through December 31 take effect January 1.
    2. Changes you make during January take effect February 1. Since your plan ended as of December 31, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare as of January 1 so that you still have coverage until you have made a formal decision.
    3. Changes you make in February take effect March 1. Since your plan ended as of December 31, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare as of January 1 so that you still have coverage until you have made a formal decision.

If possible, you should make Medicare health and drug coverage changes by December 31 to make sure you have coverage that suits your needs when the year begins. If you need help, you may want to consider:

You may also want to use Medicare’s Plan Finder tool on if you need help finding and comparing plans. The Plan Finder tool compares plans based on your health and drug needs and the facilities you use.

Remember: If your plan is ending and you do not make any changes by December 31, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare as of January 1, but you still have until the end of February to make health and drug coverage changes. It is important to know that if you are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare, you may face gaps in prescription drug coverage because you will not automatically receive a new Part D plan.

This coverage gap does not apply to those with Extra Help. If you have Extra Help, your plan ends, and you do not make any changes, you will be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare and a benchmark Part D plan starting January 1. You will have a monthly SEP to switch plans.