Medicare Open Enrollment: What You Need to Know

October 13, 2023

Are you a Medicare beneficiary? Open enrollment is the time of year that you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. Our Cancer Support Helpline’s financial specialists explain key things to know to help you prepare.


Medicare open enrollment for 2024 begins October 15 and runs through December 7. This is a good time to look back at your healthcare usage over the last year and think about where you have had high out-of-pocket expenses or gaps in your coverage. If you have, then a change in coverage could help.

What can I change during open enrollment?

  • Add or change your Medicare Part D (drug) plan
  • Change to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from your Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare
  • Purchase or change your Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) plan 

Compare the differences between Original Medicare & Medicare Advantage.


What can’t I change during open enrollment?

1. You cannot add Part B coverage during open enrollment if you didn’t elect it during your initial coverage period. 

  • The general enrollment period for Part B is from January 1 to March 31 every year. Coverage begins the month after you enroll.
  • You may have a late enrollment penalty added to your monthly premiums if you did not elect Part B during your initial enrollment period.

2. You cannot purchase a Medigap plan if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.


Tip: Before you make a change to your coverage, be sure to research any restrictions or limitations that may apply. 


What else should I consider?

1. If this is the first time you are electing a Part D plan, you may be subject to Part D late enrollment penalties.

2. Prices for Medigap plans may be better during open enrollment. Remember: If you buy a gap plan after your initial coverage period, the insurance company can look at your pre-existing conditions and potentially deny coverage for those conditions for a period of time.

3. In 2024, the income allowance for Low-Income Subsidy/Extra Help is going up. This means that people with Part D coverage will be eligible for help paying for their medications. The income amounts haven’t been released (as of October 12). Keep an eye out in the coming weeks to see if you will be eligible for this great benefit.

Review Medicare 2024 plan options.


How can I get help to navigate open enrollment?

If there is a financial navigator at your treatment center, they may be able to help you understand your choices and guide you through open enrollment.

Another resource is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). This program provides local insurance counseling for Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers. SHIP counselors are available nationwide.

Finally, our Cancer Support Helpline offers free, personalized navigation by phone and online for people impacted by cancer. This includes financial navigation. Our financial navigation specialists are trained in cancer-specific issues and resources that may impact your open enrollment decisions. To be connected with one of our financial specialists, call 888-793-9355.