Plan year 2020 and 2021 Medicare enrollment dates at a glance

Posted:January 24, 2020

A guide to the most important dates for enrolling in – or changing – Medicare coverage

Medicare 2020 and 2021 enrollment dates: Key takeaways

2020 Medicare premiums, deductibles, costsIf you’re enrolling in Medicare for the first time, there’s a fairly straightforward process – and timeline — [Here’s what you need to know about enrolling for the first time, the steps you need to take, and what to expect in terms of costs.]

But beyond that first opportunity to enroll in Medicare plans, the federal government provides other windows for enrollment: annual opportunities to enroll if you’ve delayed your enrollment for some reason, or to change your coverage if you’ve already enrolled.

Here’s a quick guide to the times when you can enroll in – or change – Medicare coverage during the course of the year.

Plan year 2021 Medicare open enrollment period (Medicare Advantage & Part D)

Dates: October 15, 2020 – December 7, 2020; changes effective January 2021 (the open enrollment period for 2020 coverage ended on December 7, 2019, but as described below, there are still opportunities for some enrollees to change their coverage for 2020).

Enrollment / plan change options:

Learn more about the Medicare open enrollment period.

Five-star enrollment period (Special enrollment for five-star plans)


  • December 8, 2019 – November 30, 2020
  • Coverage in the new plan takes effect the month after you submit your enrollment.

Enrollment / plan change options:

During this annual special enrollment period, you can join or switch to a five-star Medicare Advantage plan or Part D drug plan if you live in an area where a five-star plan is available (here is a list of the plans that have five stars for 2020).

Medicare Advantage open enrollment

Only applies to people who already have Medicare Advantage plans.

Dates: January 1 – March 31, 2020; Your plan change takes effect the month after you submit your enrollment.

Enrollment / plan change options:

  • Switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare plus a Part D plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • You can only make one change during this open enrollment period (as opposed to the fall enrollment period when you can change your mind multiple times if necessary)

Learn more about Medicare Advantage open enrollment.

Part A / Part B general enrollment period

Dates: January 1 – March 31, 2020; Coverage takes effect July 1.

Enrollment / plan change options:

  • General enrollment for Part B – for people who didn’t sign up when they were first eligible. A late enrollment penalty may apply.
  • Part A general enrollment period – for people who have to pay premiums for Medicare Part A and didn’t sign up when first eligible (late enrollment penalty may apply).
  • Beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during the general enrollment period then have three months (April through June) to enroll in a Part D plan to supplement their coverage, OR to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Access to Medigap plans will vary depending on state laws (click on a state on this map to see how Medigap plans are regulated).

Learn more about Medicare Part A.

Learn more about Medicare Part B.


Louise Norris,  January 4, 2020 – this article was originally posted on: