What You Must Know About the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 to March 31)

Have second thoughts about the Medicare Advantage plan you enrolled in? The good news is, every year, you get a “second chance” to choose a new plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. In this article, we’ll talk about what you can do during this time, and some give you some considerations to think about before making any changes.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period provides Medicare enrollees with a “second chance” to change their plan if they are not satisfied with their current coverage.


What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

There are a few enrollment periods within the federal Medicare program, and they can be hard to keep track of, especially since some of them have very similar names! For example, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) coincides with the General Enrollment Period (GEP), but they are for two different people.

This enrollment window runs from January 1 to March 31 every year. Anyone who is already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can make one of two changes if they're not happy with their current plan. Only one change is allowed during this time.

First, they can simply choose another Medicare Advantage plan. Second, they can choose to disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B). In either scenario, the change will become effective on the first day of the month following the change request. 

What to Consider Before Making a Change During OEP

If you switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, you are probably already familiar with how these plans work. If you weren’t happy with your current plan, you should look for a new plan that fits your needs better.

Most of the concern comes from switching from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare.

If you are switching back to Original Medicare alone, you should understand the costs you’ll be responsible for under Parts A and B. You will have deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts for each part. Plus, there is no annual out-of-pocket limit like with Advantage plans.

This problem can be solved by enrolling in a Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy. Medicare supplements will help with expenses that remain after Original Medicare pays its portion. The amount of coverage you’ll have depends on which of the ten plans you enroll in.

However, not everyone will be eligible to enroll in a Medigap plan. Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you do not have guaranteed issue rights to a supplement. Insurance companies can deny coverage because of your health history or choose to raise your premiums if you have more healthcare needs than the average person.

Some states have different guaranteed issue rights. Regardless, you should find out if you will be eligible for a Medicare supplement before disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan.

If you switch back to Original Medicare, the other thing to consider is that you will need to enroll in a separate Part D plan. There are many plans available, and you will choose one based on your medications and pharmacy.

Need help making a change to your Medicare Advantage plan during the Open Enrollment Period? Our licensed insurance agents are just a phone call away. Our team specializes in Medicare and can help you make informed decisions on your healthcare coverage.

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