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If I have a Medicare Advantage plan, can I switch to original Medicare during open enrollment?

En español | You can change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to the original Medicare program during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7) if you want to. You can also make this change during a special annual disenrollment period (January 1 to February 14). 

Switching during the open enrollment period (October 15-December 7): 

Your new coverage in the original Medicare program will begin January 1. If you need Part D prescription drug coverage, you can also use open enrollment to join a stand-alone Part D drug plan, regardless of whether you received drug coverage from your Medicare Advantage plan. 

Making this change does not give you the right to buy a Medigap policy with full federal guarantees and protections, unless you’re entitled to do so for other specific reasons.

For example, you get these protections — which mean you can’t be denied coverage or charged higher premiums because of past or current health problems — if one of these applies to you:

  • You’re still within six months of enrolling in Part B.
  • The Medicare Advantage plan you’re enrolled in has ceased service in your area.
  • You’ve moved your residence outside of your plan's service area.
  • Your state's laws give you additional protections.

For details of the circumstances in which you’re entitled to protections when buying Medigap policies, see the Medicare publication “Choosing a Medigap Policy” (pdf).

Switching during the annual disenrollment period (January 1-February 14):

You can use this time frame to drop a Medicare Advantage plan regardless of how long you've been on it. If you disenroll in January, your new coverage in the original Medicare program begins February 1. If you do so during the first two weeks of February., coverage starts March 1. 

If the Medicare Advantage plan you’re dropping included drug coverage, you can also use this period to sign up with a stand-alone Part D drug plan. But you can’t use it to sign up for drug coverage for the first time.

You may buy a Medigap policy during the disenrollment period, but you don’t have the right to buy it with federal guarantees and protections, unless this period happens to coincide with a time frame when you do have those rights or unless your state law gives additional protections. 

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