If you’re new to Medicare Advantage plans, or maybe you’re considering switching your current plan, you might have some questions about Medicare Advantage Enrollment periods.
You’re not alone! Medicare Advantage Enrollment periods go by many names, and, you might be surprised to know, there’s more than one time of year when you can join and/or switch a plan.
A lot of this depends on what plan you currently have, your age, and what time of year it is!
Don’t worry – we’ll explain everything you need to know when it comes to Medicare Advantage Enrollment periods. Let’s get started!
About Initial Enrollment Periods
Your eligibility for Initial Enrollment Period depends on you! Initial Enrollment Periods are all about dates that are specific to you.
Typically, you have a 7-month window for open enrollment. This would mean that you could enroll three months prior to your birthday month (turning 65), during your birthday month, and three months after.
Or, if you are eligible due to disability, your enrollment period would being three months prior to your 25th month of getting Social Security, three months after your 25th month of getting disability benefit, and include your 25th month of getting disability benefits.
Outside of these enrollment periods, if you are already enrolled in Part B, then you might qualify to enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan between April 1st and June 30th.
If you’re unsure about your exact enrollment periods, dates, or what you qualify for, you might want to talk to a Plan Advisor near you. It’s always helpful to get an expert’s opinion! (link to blog about Medicare coverage)
About Annual (or Yearly) Enrollment Periods
This open enrollment period is for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. If you’re looking to enroll in Medicare Part C and/or D, this is the time for you!
This Annual Enrollment Period (AEP or YEP) occurs each fall, from October 15 to December 7.
During this period of time, you can choose from several options:
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage (and vise versa)
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- Switch from one Medicare Drug Plan to another Medicare Drug Plan.
- Drop your Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage entirely
About the New Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Yes, this Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is a new addition as of 2019!
During this period, from January 1st to March 31st, you are once again able to switch things up. But, be careful. Not everything is available for change during this time.
Here’s what you can do during this period:
- If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage)
- You can disenroll from your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare
- If you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage Plan, you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan at this time
- If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan during your Initial Enrollment Period, you can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without drug coverage) or go back to Original Medicare (with or without drug coverage) within the first 3 months you have Medicare
Additionally, if for some reason you did not sign up from Medicare A or B during your Initial Enrollment Period, you have a chance to do so now – though there may be a slight late enrollment penalty (especially for Part B – most people are eligible to receive Part A for free).
Here’s what you can’t do during this period:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you’re in Original Medicare
- Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another if you’re in Original Medicare
About Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan
There’s so much to consider when it comes to Medicare Advantage Enrollment. When to do it, what you are eligible for, which plans are best – this list goes on!
Because of this, it’s often helpful to find a local advisor/agent who can explain exactly what you qualify for, what plans you have to choose from, when you can enroll, and what you can expect going forward.
Plus, these agents will cost you nothing! Agents are paid by carriers, are unbiased towards any one plan, and are really there to help you determine the best plan for you, personally, based on your needs and priorities. They can even provide ongoing advice, no matter what you might encounter with your plan.
So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to a Plan Advisor near you to get started!