What you should know:
- You can only change Medicare Advantage Plans during certain times of the year, unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
- Anyone can change their Medicare Advantage Plan during their Initial Enrollment Period, Open Enrollment or Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment.
- Open Enrollment occurs every year from October 15 to December 7. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment lasts from January 1 through March 31 each year.
- If you qualify for a SEP, you generally have 2 months to make a change to your Medicare Advantage Plan.
Can you switch Medicare Advantage plans anytime?
You cannot switch Medicare Advantage plans at any time. There are only three enrollment periods when you can switch a Medicare Advantage Plan. Your first opportunity is after you first enroll in a MA Plan during your Initial Enrollment Period.
Your Initial Enrollment Period generally lasts for 7 months from 3 months before the month you turn 65 to 3 months after the month you turn 65, unless you qualify for Medicare based on disability. In this case, your Initial Enrollment Period starts 3 months before your 25th month of receiving disability benefits and ends 3 months after your 25th month of disability benefits.
During these 7 months, you can make any changes you need to your plan elections. If you enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can also make changes anytime in the first 3 months of your Medicare coverage.
After that, you can switch plans during open enrollment in the Fall or during Medicare Advantage open enrollment, which is at the beginning of each year.
Medicare Open Enrollment occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year. If you have Medicare Part A already and get Part B for the first time during Open Enrollment, you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan. This is referred to as the General Enrollment Period.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment lasts from January 1 through March 31 each year and is specifically for Medicare Advantage Plans. If you’re already enrolled in a MA Plan, you can switch to a different MA Plan or to Original Medicare during this time.
Can you change my Medicare Advantage plan after open enrollment?
Once the open enrollment ends, in general you will not be able to make changes until the next enrollment period. However, there are a few exceptions when you can make a change or disenroll from your plan outside of the enrollment periods.
Certain events may make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). For instance, if this is the first time you’ve ever enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan and you dropped a Medigap policy to enroll, you have a 12 month trial period after enrolling in the MA Plan in which you can drop your MA Plan and go back to Original Medicare.
Another exception is if your Advantage plan drops your healthcare provider. Also, if you move and your plan does not have coverage in your new location, you can change plans.
Even if your new address is within your current plan’s coverage area, you can switch to a different plan if your move made you eligible for new options that weren’t available at your old address. You have from one month before your move until 2 months after your move to switch plans.