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New York, NY — Medicare Fall Open Enrollment occurs from October 15 to December 7 of every year and is the time of year when people with Medicare can make unrestricted changes to their coverage options. To assist the press in their Medicare coverage, the Medicare Rights Center has developed Medicare Fall Open Enrollment: A Resource for Journalists, Fall 2018, which includes a list of upcoming changes, expert advice, and related issues of interest to people with Medicare. Also included are consumer-friendly resources that can be shared with readers.

The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities, expects that journalists will find the resource helpful as they prepare coverage for this year's Medicare enrollment season.

A few notable updates for 2019 include the following:

  • Part B Premium Remains Unchanged
    Medicare Trustees predict that in 2019, the standard Medicare Part B premium will not increase and thus will remain at $134 per month.
  • Part D Costs in 2019 The average Medicare prescription drug plan premium is projected to remain stable in 2019 at about $32.50 per month, down from $33.50 in 2018. In 2019, Medicare beneficiaries will have a 75% discount on the cost of their brand name drugs during the coverage gap (also known as the doughnut hole). The discount for generics during the doughnut hole will increase from 56% to 63%.

  • The New Medicare Advantage (MA) Open Enrollment and Disenrollment Period
    Beginning in 2019, the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) will be replaced with a MA open enrollment and disenrollment period that lasts from January 1 through March 31 each year.

During this time, people with MA may make the following changes one time:

  • Switch between MA plans
  • Or, switch to Original Medicare with or without Part D

A change made during the MA open enrollment and disenrollment period is effective on the first of the following month.

  • Changes to the Special Enrollment Period for People with Extra Help
    In 2019, individuals enrolled in the Low Income Subsidy (LIS), also known as Extra Help, are limited to changing their Part D plan once per calendar quarter in the first three quarters of each year.

    Any changes made during this special enrollment period are effective on the first of the following month. People with LIS may use the Fall Open Enrollment period during fourth quarter to make changes to their coverage, with changes effective January 1.

The complete Medicare Fall Open Enrollment: A Resource for Journalists is available on the Medicare Rights Center’s website at:

A consumer version of this resource is also available on Medicare Interactive. Developed by the Medicare Rights Center, Medicare Interactive (MI) is a free and independent online reference tool thoughtfully designed to help older adults and people with disabilities navigate the complex world of health insurance.

©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.