Can I Change My Medicare Advantage Plan After Open Enrollment?
Medicare Advantage Plans — or Medicare Part C — can give you more access to benefits not included in Original Medicare, like dental, vision and prescription drug coverage. There were nearly 4,000 Medicare Advantage Plans available across the U.S. in 2021, and with so many options, it’s important to know when you can make changes to yours.
Whether you want to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, change your existing plan or disenroll from it completely, you likely won’t be able to do so outside of the standard enrollment periods — but it is possible.
Key Dates for Changing or Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan
During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period — January 1 to March 31 — you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or drop it and return to Original Medicare. But this isn’t the only chance you get during the year to reconsider your coverage.
Three other periods throughout the year provide the opportunity to join, switch or drop your Medicare Advantage plan:
The Initial Enrollment Period, when you first become eligible for Medicare
Annual Election Period, October 15 to December 7
The 5-Star Special Enrollment Period — only once between December 8 and November 30 — if a 5-Star Medicare Advantage Plan is available in your area
Outside of these four enrollment periods, you’ll need to request and qualify for special circumstances to gain access to a Special Enrollment Period.
Some of the acceptable reasons for a Special Enrollment Period might include:
A change in your residence, like moving to a new address outside your current plan’s service area or moving into a long-term care facility
A loss in coverage, perhaps by losing Medicaid eligibility or after leaving an employer
A change in your plan’s contract with Medicare, like Medicare sanctioning or terminating the plan’s contract
Various other situations, like a disabling condition or joining a plan due to an error by a federal employee
3 Reasons To Change Your Medicare Advantage Plan
Maybe the above doesn’t apply to your specific situation, but you’d still like to make changes to your Medicare Advantage Plan. Consider these three major reasons a senior might want to change their plan:
1. Costs: Some plans have high out-of-pocket limits, or your chosen doctor may be out of network. Changing your plan to one with a higher monthly premium and a lower annual out-of-pocket limit would help to spend less money per year.
2. Coverage: If you have a Medicare HMO plan and your doctor is out-of-network, your Medicare Advantage Plan won’t cover those bills. Changing your plan from HMO to PPO could ensure more in-network coverage.
3. Prescriptions: Within the thousands of Medicare Advantage Plans available across the nation, some include drug coverage and some don’t. If you need prescription drug coverage, there are plans available with different levels of coverage.
How Do I Switch My MA Plan?
If you’ve taken the time to read through everything on this page, and you’ve decided to switch things up, wait for an enrollment period and simply join the plan of your choice, automatically disenrolling from your previous plan.