In certain situations, you may be able to change Medicare Advantage plans after these open 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 supplemental insurance during the first 12 months 1) if you joined the plan when you enrolled in Medicare at age 65, or 2) if you dropped a Medigap policy to join the Advantage plan and this is the first Advantage plan you have been enrolled in.
If a five-star Medicare Advantage plan is available in your area. If a Medicare Advantage plan that covers your area earned an overall five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, you can join that plan any time of year except the first week in December. You can use this five-star special enrollment period 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 star ratings. Plans with a five-star rating have a five-star icon. You can also call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) or your State Health Insurance Assistance Program to find out if five-star plans are available.
During a special enrollment period. You can switch into another Medicare Advantage plan or change from Medicare Advantage to original Medicare in other situations, such as the following:
For more information about these and other special enrollment periods, 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.
Even though you can leave a Medicare Advantage plan and switch to original Medicare during open enrollment and at other times, you may not have a guaranteed right to buy a Medigap policy to help 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 circumstances, 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 legally 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.
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 delayed enrolling in Medicare because you or your spouse were still working and had 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. And you’ll usually have to pay whatever premiums you owe for traditional Medicare in addition to any premium that a Medicare Advantage plan might charge.
Updated April 20, 2022
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