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Can I change Medicare Advantage plans at any time?

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

You can jump to another plan or drop your Medicare Advantage plan and change to original Medicare during certain times each year. You may be eligible to change plans at other times, too. Keep these periods in mind if you want to see doctors or use medications that aren’t covered under your Medicare Advantage plan.

Everyone with Medicare Advantage has two opportunities to change plans each year.

Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. You have many options to change coverage during this annual open enrollment period. You can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, change from a Medicare Advantage plan to original Medicare and vice versa, or switch from one Part D drug plan to another. Coverage in the new plan begins Jan. 1. 

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

Changing Medicare Advantage plans after open enrollment

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:

  • You move to a new address that isn’t in your plan’s service area.
  • You just moved into, live in or just moved out of a nursing home or other long-term care facility.
  • You lose coverage from Medicaid or a state program that pays your Medicare premiums.
  • The plan withdraws service from your area, leaves Medicare entirely or shuts down.
  • Medicare agrees with your complaint that the plan violated its contract with you or that you were misled into joining the plan through fraud or erroneous or incomplete information.
  • Medicare agrees that a federal employee made a mistake when processing your enrollment in this plan.

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.

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 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. 

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 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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