RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s that time of year again! Open enrollment is happening right now for Medicare and Affordable Care Act healthcare plans.

Medicare, which is available to Americans over the age of 65 as well as those with disabilities, is now in open enrollment. So are plans under the affordable care act. But what does that mean, and when will it end?

Open enrollment is essentially the window of time during which you can change your plan or join a new one. For Medicare, the period began on October 15, and will run through December 7.

For plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, Enrollment began on Tuesday, November 1, and will run through January 15.

When it comes to enrolling in Medicare, everyone wants to make sure they pick the coverage option that’s right for them.

Plans on Plans on Plans

There are multiple types of Medicare coverage available during the annual enrollment period: original Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance as also known as Medigap, and Medicare parts D and C.

  • Medicare part A — Covers inpatient care, including hospice and nursing facilities
  • Medicare part B — Covers doctor’s visits and some home health support
  • Medicare part C — Combines parts A and B, but can be more expensive or provide inadequate coverage, as it’s offered through private insurers
  • Medicare part D — Covers prescription drug costs through private insurers

But what some people don’t know is the plan is sold by private insurers and offered by certain companies that must follow rules already set by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits, including some coverage for dental and vision care.

Policies usually incorporate part D prescription drug coverage into the plan, which is one of the biggest differences in comparison between other plans.

But what if you aren’t enrolled in any Medicare plan and want to be? Can you enroll in a plan during this current enrollment period?

Unfortunately, you can’t. Medicare open enrollment is specifically for people who are already enrolled in Medicare. You can enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, which generally includes the three months before and after your 65th birthday.

Something else you may not know — if you’re not happy with your plan after Medicare open enrollment comes to an end on December 7, you can make a change in your coverage from Jan. 1 to March 31.

You can visit United States Department of Health and Human Services website for more information.