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Medicare beneficiaries should explore their options annually about their coverage. Between October 15-December 7, Medicare beneficiaries who do not have a Part D plan may enroll in one and those who do have a Part D plan can change it. Beneficiaries can also opt out of an Advantage Plan and return to traditional Medicare. Those considering a return to traditional Medicare should also explore getting a Medigap policy. Unfortunately, when making this type of change from an Advantage policy, the beneficiary is not guaranteed coverage as he or she would have been if enrolling originally. Changes requested during open enrollment become effective on January 1.

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Even if you were satisfied with your plans this year, you should review your plan for 2016. Sometimes changes are made to coverage and it is possible that better plan exists for your situation. The Medicare Plan Finder at www.medicare.gov allows you to input your drugs and dosages and compare plans.

Beneficiaries wishing to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage program will have an additional period beginning January 1-February 14. This period allows beneficiaries to drop their Medicare Advantage plan, enroll in traditional Medicare and pick up a Part D plan. This period does not allow beneficiaries to switch from one Advantage plan to another.

Special Enrollment periods exists when circumstances change such as when a beneficiary is in a skilled nursing home. But we do not recommend waiting until such a time to get the coverage that is most needed.