When Can I Enroll In, Switch Or Cancel Medicare Advantage Plans?

Medicare plans

During the Initial Enrollment Period

Most persons first become eligible for Medicare on their 65th birthday, or earlier under certain circumstances when they are disabled. You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B (original Medicare) if you are receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The Initial Enrollment Period starts 3 months before your birthday and stops 3 months after. During this time you are also allowed to enroll in an advantage plan.

At Specific Times Each Year:

  • Anytime For 5-Star Rated Medicare Advantage Plans You can now switch to a ‘5-star’ Medicare Advantage Plan at any time during the year. Ratings are published each fall. The plan must be available in your geographic area. You may switch once every year.
  • During Annual Dis-Enrollment From January 1 to February 14 you are allowed to dis-enroll from your advantage plan and return to original Medicare. (Note that you cannot switch to another advantage plan during disenrollment.) If your Medicare advantage plan has prescription drug coverage provided, you will need to enroll in a Part D plan to continue having prescription drug benefits. As not all Part D plans are equal, make sure that you check whether your medication is included before you join!
  • During Annual Open Enrollment Between October 15th and December 7th each year, you may enroll in, switch or cancel Medicare advantage plans. Your new coverage will take effect on January 1 of the following year. Open enrollment is an important time to doublecheck your current health care needs and compare benefits and premium of your current Medicare plan with other available options. Has anything changed about your health? Did you get notification from the plan provider that there were changes to your policy? When you compare quotes, make sure to not only look at the premiums, but also at any deductibles or co-payments the plans may have. If you don’t take action during open enrollment, you are not able to make comprehensive changes to your plan during the next 12 months – you can only drop your policy completely during the disenrollment period, or any time switch to a 5 star rated Medicare advantage plan.
  • If You Qualify For A Special Enrollment Period (SEP) Under specific circumstances, for example when you move out of your plan’s area, or your doctor stops participating in the network of your plan, you are able to make changes to your plan. Get more info about SEP’s by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) (TTY 1-877-486-2048).

A great overview about the different Medicare enrollment periods can be found at www.medicareadvantagesupplementplans.com/enrollment.

By: Joseph Rosario

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