When Can I Change Medicare Plans?
Are you looking to change plans to save money, get more coverage or for convenience’s sake? Depending on which type of plan you have, you may be able to switch easily during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The Open Enrollment period occurs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During this period, you can make the following changes to your plans:
- Drop your Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan and return to Part A and Part B
- Disenroll from Part A and B and sign up for a n MA Plan
- Change MA Plans
- Sign up for a Part D plan or a creditable prescription drug plan
- Change Part D plans.
- Drop your Part D or prescription drug plan
Outside of the Open Enrollment period, you may also have a Special Enrollment Period (SEPs) to make changes to your plan.
It’s important to remember not to drop your current coverage until your new coverage begins! Make sure to find out exactly when your new coverage will begin by speaking with your plan.
Changing MA Plans
You can leave your old MA Plan, also called Part C, by signing up for a new one during the Open Enrollment Period, from October 15 to December 7 every year.
You may also be able to switch plans outside of the OEP if you have a Special Enrollment Period. You may have a SEP if you are in a certain situation that affects your plan. For example, if you move to a new house that is outside your plan’s service area, you may be able to switch plans.
Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods that give you the right to switch here!
If you want to leave your Part C Plan and switch to Part A and Part B, you can do so each year during two periods:
- Open Enrollment Period
- Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). The MADP is from January 1 to February 14 each year.
When you return to Part A and Part B, you can also sign up for a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.
Outside of Open Enrollment and MADP, you may also have a Special Enrollment Period to return to Part A and Part B. For example, if you left your MS Plan, also called Medigap, for the first time and signed up for an MA Plan within the past 12 months, you may have the Federal right to return to Part A and Part B.
Changing Part A and Part B
If you want to switch to an Advantage plan, you can do so during the following periods:
- Initial Enrollment Period: 7-month period that begins three months before you are 65 and are first eligible for benefits, the month of your birthday, and three months afterwards.
- Open Enrollment Period: Each year from October 15 to December 7.
If you receive primary health insurance from your job or your partner’s job, you may want to only receive Part A benefits for the time being. You can drop Part B before your benefits begin by doing one of the following things:
- If you were automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B, you should have received a Medicare card. Read the instructions on the back of the card and return the card. As long as you it, you are enrolled in Part B.
- If you signed up through Social Security, contact Social Security and request that you be disenrolled from Part B.
Changing Your Part D Plan
You will typically be able to switch, join, or drop Part D prescription plans during the Open Enrollment Period, from October 15 to December 7 each year. When you leave your MA Plan for Part A and B, you also have the right to join a stand-alone Part D plan, regardless of if your MA plan included prescription drug coverage.
You may also be able to make changes to your Part D plan at other times during the year if you have a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You may have a SEP if you are experience any of the following circumstances:
- You receive Extra Help to pay for prescription drug costs.
- You live in a nursing home or recently left or entered one.
- You move to a new address that is outside of your current plan’s service area.
- Your plan no longer offers services in your area.
Changing Medigap Plans
You typically don’t have a Federal guaranteed-issue right to change plans. Guaranteed-issue rights allow you to buy any Medigap plan sold in your state, regardless of your health.
You usually have a guaranteed-issue right to change plans if you are within your 6-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which starts the first month you are enrolled in Part B and are 65.
You may also have a guaranteed issue right to switch plans if you are in a special circumstance that affects your plan. You can learn about circumstances in which you may have a guaranteed issue right specific to Supplement plans here.
If you don’t have a guaranteed issue right and are past your Medigap OEP, you may still be able to sign up for a new plan. However, finding a plan that accepts you may be a difficult or impossible task, and you may be charged more for plans based on your current or previous health.
We hope this article helps you make the right healthcare insurance changes for you. If you have any more questions and switching, joining or dropping plans, feel free to reach out to our licensed insurance agents!