What are my options if my Medicare Advantage plan is ending at the end of the year?

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If your Medicare Advantage plan is ending on December 31, 2014, you need to make decisions about your Medicare coverage. Here are some suggestions on what to do when your plan is ending:

 1)      By October 2, 2014, you should receive a letter from your Medicare Advantage plan if your plan is ending at the end of the year and will not be available next year. Keep this letter for your own information. This letter may also include a list of other Medicare Advantage plans in your area.

 2)      Decide whether you want to sign up for another Medicare Advantage plan or change to Original Medicare. Remember, there are two different ways you can get your Medicare coverage. Choose the health coverage that’s right for you and matches your health care needs. Click here for more information on the main differences between Medicare Advantage plans and Original Medicare. 

  • If you want to join another Medicare Advantage plan, you can sign up for a new plan: 

Between October 15, 2014 and February 28, 2015. Most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage. You can look at a list of Medicare Advantage plans in your area on Medicare’s Plan Finder tool at www.medicare.gov or you can call 1-800-MEDICARE. 

It is best to sign up for a new plan by December 31, 2014, so you can get coverage beginning January 1 of the next year. If you wait until January or February to enroll in the new plan, your coverage will start the first of the month after you enroll. You will have Original Medicare with no drug coverage until your Medicare Advantage plan coverage starts.

  • If you want enroll in Original Medicare, you will be automatically enrolled:

By December 31, 2014, if you don’t enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as discussed above. Your Original Medicare coverage will begin on January 1, 2015. You can also call 800-MEDICARE to disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and automatically enroll in Original Medicare. You will also need to consider how you are going to receive your prescription drug coverage (see point below).

From November 2, 2014 to March 4, 2015, you may sign up for a Medigap plan if you choose to have Original Medicare. Medigaps help pay for gaps in Original Medicare coverage. Remember, you can only have a Medigap if you have Original Medicare. You may not have a Medigap if you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Remember, if you enroll in a Medigap before December 31, 2014, your coverage will begin on January 1, 2015. If you wait until January, February, or March to enroll, you will not have secondary coverage from a Medigap until the first of the month after the month you enroll. Under federal law, if you are 65 or over, you will have a special right to buy a Medigap policy because your Medicare private plan is ending. During this time, you have the right to sign up for a Medigap and plans cannot impose a pre-existing waiting period. Some states are more generous with their Medigap laws and may offer these protections to people under 65. Contact your State Department of Insurance or State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more about the Medigap rules and regulations in your state.  

3) Decide whether you need prescription drug coverage.  You can either sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers drug coverage or sign up for a stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D) that works with Original Medicare. Remember, most Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs, but Original Medicare does not. If you want Original Medicare, you need to sign up for a separate prescription drug plan (Part D). Make sure your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan covers all of your medications. Keep in mind that there are some instances where you may not have to enroll in a Part D plan. Click here for more information on deciding whether to enroll in Part D.  

  • If you want to join a Medicare Advantage plan, sign up for one that offers prescription drug coverage:

By December 31, 2014, try to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage, so you can have drug coverage beginning January 1 of the next year.  You technically have until February 28, 2015, to sign up for prescription drug coverage. However, if you wait until January or February to enroll in the new plan, your coverage will start the first of the month after you enroll.

  • If you want to enroll in Original Medicare, sign up for a stand-alone Part D plan:

By December 31, 2014, try to sign up for a Part D plan, so you can have drug coverage beginning January 1 of the next year. You technically have until February 28, 2015, to sign up for prescription drug coverage. However, if you wait until January or February to enroll in the new plan, your coverage will start the first of the month after you enroll.

Remember, after February 28, 2015, you will not be able change, join, or drop a Medicare drug plan. In most cases, you will need to wait to until Fall Open Enrollment (October 15 through December 7) to make any changes to your Medicare drug coverage.


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

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