Changing your Medicare Advantage plan

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You are limited in when you can change your Medicare Advantage plan during the year.

  1. You can switch Medicare Advantage plans during Fall Open Enrollment (Fall Open Enrollment is sometimes referred to as the Annual Coordinated Election Period – ACEP) which runs from October 15 through December 7 in 2014. Your new coverage starts January 1. During this period you can change your choice of health coverage, and add, drop or change Medicare drug coverage. You can make as many changes as you need during this period, but only your last coverage choice will take effect January 1. However, to avoid enrollment problems, it is best to make as few changes as possible.

    Even if you are satisfied with your current Medicare coverage, look at other Medicare options in your area and compare them with your present coverage to see which plan will best suit your needs in the upcoming year. Research shows that people with Part D or Medicare Advantage plans could lower their costs by shopping among plans each year.  For example, another Part D plan in your area may cover the drugs you take with fewer restrictions and charge you less.

    Note: If you are changing plans to join a Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), you can usually only do so during the Fall Open Enrollment Period.  

  2. You can switch from your Medicare Advantage plan (except MSA plan) to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). You can only make this coverage change if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. The MADP occurs every year from January 1 to February 14.

    If you have a Medicare Advantage plan you will be able to switch to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone prescription drug plan. Changes made during this period will become effective the first of the following month. For example, if you switched from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare and a stand-alone prescription drug plan in February, your new coverage would begin March 1.

    Note: If you are enrolled in a PFFS plan with a stand-alone drug plan, you must keep your stand-alone prescription drug plan if you switch to Original Medicare during the MADP.

    Note: If you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan federal law does not usually give you the right to buy a Medigap plan. The laws in your state might give you more rights. Medigap plans are supplemental polices that help pay for Original Medicare deductibles and coinsurances. You should check with your SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) to find out if and when you can enroll in a Medigap plan in your state.

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period 

If you have... You can switch to...
 
a Medicare Advantage plan with or without drug coverage  Original Medicare and a prescription drug plan* 

or

Original Medicare without
a prescription drug plan
 

A Medicare Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plan that does not have prescription drug coverage and a stand-alone prescription drug plan (MA and PDP)

Original Medicare, but you must keep your current prescription drug plan

Original Medicare or Original Medicare and a prescription drug plan You cannot switch your plan during this time 
 

 * If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and a separate stand along drug plan (PDP), then you can switch to Original Medicare but cannot change stand alone drug plans.

3. Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to change your health and or drug plan outside of the usual enrollment or disenrollment periods. If you get an SEP, your new coverage will usually start the first of the month after you sign up for or disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan. One example of when you qualify for an SEP: when your Medicare Advantage plan leaves your area or you move out of your plan’s service area, you can switch to another Advantage plan or to Original Medicare.   

You have an SEP to switch into a five-star plan from your current plan. The five-star SEP encourages Medicare Advantage plans to improve their quality ratings. You can enroll into a new Medicare Advantage Plan or stand-alone Part D plan that was given an overall plan performance rating of five stars for the year 2014.  You may only use this SEP once per calendar year. You must also be eligible to join the plan (i.e. live in the plan’s service area). For more information on this and all Special Enrollment Periods, please see the chart below.   

 Medicare Advantage Plan Special Enrollment Period (SEP) Chart

Enroll early during an enrollment period to make sure that your new coverage starts when it should.


Related Questions
Can my state give me more rights and protections than federal law regarding Medigap plan enrollment?

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GO TO
Changing your Medicare private drug plan (Part D)

How do I enroll in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D)?

Will I be penalized for delaying enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D)?

Joining a Medicare Advantage plan

How do I switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare?

Switching from one Medicare Advantage plan to another

 
LINKS
Medicare.gov Medigap (Medicare Supplement) Policies & Guide

MyMedicare.gov: Access your Medicare information

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) Directory

 
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