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Can I change Medicare Advantage plans at any time?


No, you can’t switch Medicare Advantage plans whenever you want but you have options if you’re unhappy with your plan.

You can shift to another plan or drop your Medicare Advantage plan altogether and move to original Medicare. Technically, you can do this only during certain times of the year, but you may be eligible to change plans at other times too. Keep the two enrollment periods below in mind if you want to see doctors or use medications that aren’t covered under your Medicare Advantage plan.

Annual enrollment period — Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. You have many options to change coverage during annual open enrollment. You can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, change from an MA plan to original Medicare and vice versa, or switch from one Part D drug plan to another. Your coverage begins Jan. 1. 

Medicare Advantage open enrollment period —Jan. 1 to March 31. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to another MA plan, or change from Medicare Advantage to original Medicare and join a Part D plan during MA open enrollment period. Your coverage begins the first day of the month after you switch.

If you leave Medicare Advantage for original Medicare, you may not be guaranteed a Medigap plan except under certain circumstances.

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When can I change Medicare Advantage plans after open enrollment?

In certain situations, you may be able to change Medicare Advantage plans outside of the two enrollment periods.

Your first year in a Medicare Advantage plan. This counts as a trial period in two circumstances. You can drop out of the plan and return to original Medicare with the right to buy Medigap supplement insurance during the first 12 months, if you:

  • Joined the plan when you enrolled in Medicare at age 65.
  • Dropped a Medigap policy to join the Advantage plan, and it’s the first Advantage plan you’ve enrolled in. 

If a five-star Medicare Advantage plan is available in your area. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rank Medicare Advantage plans based on several quality measures, with five stars as the top rating. If a Medicare Advantage plan that covers your area earned an overall five-star rating, you can join that plan any time of year except the first week in December, and only once a year. Coverage begins the first day of the month after the plan receives your enrollment request.

To find out whether a five-star plan is available in your area, visit the Medicare Plan Finder and filter results for your ZIP code based on the star ratings. Or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) or your State Health Insurance Assistance Program to find out if five-star plans are available.

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During a special enrollment period. Other situations allowing you to switch to another MA plan or change from MA to original Medicare include:

  • A move to a new address that isn’t in your plan’s service area.
  • A move into or out of a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
  • Loss of coverage from Medicaid or a state program that pays your Medicare premiums.
  • Your plan withdraws service from your area, leaves Medicare entirely or shuts down.

For more information, see Medicare.gov’s guide to understanding special enrollment periods. Before choosing a new plan, it’s a good idea to compare the Medicare Advantage options in your area. Learn how to use the Medicare Plan Finder step by step to shop for Medicare Advantage plans.

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Can I switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap?

Even though you can leave a Medicare Advantage plan and switch to original Medicare during open enrollment and other times, you may not have a guaranteed right to buy a Medigap policy to cover original Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs if more than six months have passed since you signed up for Medicare Part B. Except in some cases, such as if you leave a Medicare Advantage plan during your 12-month trial period or you move out of your plan’s service area, Medigap insurers in most states can reject you or charge more if you have preexisting conditions.

Before switching out of Medicare Advantage and into original Medicare, look at Medicare’s qualifications to see if you have a guaranteed issue right to get Medigap coverage.

Keep in mind

You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan when you’re first eligible for Medicare, which is the seven-month initial enrollment period that starts three months before the month you turn 65 and ends three months afterward. If you delay enrolling in Medicare because you or your spouse are still working and have employer health coverage, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan within two months of losing that coverage.

Remember: You must sign up for Medicare Parts A and B before you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. You’ll usually have to pay the premiums you owe for original Medicare in addition to any premium that a Medicare Advantage plan might charge.

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