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What’s the New Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage?

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Did you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, and later discover a plan you’d much rather have? You can generally change plans only during certain time periods. Now there’s another chance for you to change Medicare Advantage plans. It’s called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Medicare Advantage enrollment: when can I make changes?

Medicare Advantage enrollment is generally only available during certain time periods.

  • During your Medicare Advantage Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP). This is often the same as your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period, starting 3 months before the month you qualify for Medicare. This period also includes the month you qualify for Medicare, and ends 3 months after that – so it’s usually 7 months long. Your ICEP may be different if you delay enrollment in Medicare Part B – in that case it may last only 3 months and end the last day of the month before your Part B coverage starts.
  • During the Annual Election Period (AEP), also called Fall Open Enrollment, which runs from October 15 – December 7 every year. You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, change from one plan to another, and make various other Medicare coverage changes at this time.
  • During the new Medicare Open Enrollment Period, from January 1- March 31. You can’t sign up for a Medicare Advantage from Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) during this period, but you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. Read more details below.
  • During a Special Enrollment Period for 5-star Medicare Advantage plans (December 8- November 30). Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. If you live within the service area of a 5-star plan, you may be able to enroll during that time.
  • During a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) other than for 5-star plans. In certain situations, you may be able to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan outside the normal enrollment periods. Generally you might qualify for an SEP when you lose coverage – for example, if you move outside your current plan’s service area.

The new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)

 So, what is the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, and how might it benefit you?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period gives you another opportunity to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. For example, suppose your plan doesn’t include prescription drug coverage and you want to switch to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Or, maybe you found out about a Medicare Advantage plan that has a doctor in its provider network who you want as your doctor.
Here’s what you can do during the Medicare Advantage (MA) OEP:

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different one.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage.
  • Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan if you decide to return to Original Medicare.

Here’s what you can’t do during the MA OEP:

  • Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare, Part A and Part B.
  • Change from one stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to another.
  • Make coverage changes if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program or other Medicare health plan, such as a Medicare Cost Plan.

Remember, if you want to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan:

  • You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.
  • You need to keep paying your monthly Medicare Part B premium.
  • If you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD), you might not be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan – except a special kind called a Special Needs Plan.
  • You need to live within the plan’s service area.

Not sure whether to switch plans, or what Medicare plan options are available to you? If you type your zip code in the box on this page, you can take a look at what’s in your area and compare plans at your convenience.

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