The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allows Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries to make a one-time change to their Medicare Advantage coverage during a three-month time frame. This enrollment period gives beneficiaries a trial period to decide if they wish to continue with their current coverage.
If you are unsatisfied with your Medicare Advantage plan, this enrollment period allows you to make necessary changes. You have the freedom to disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in a new one or return to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).
When is the Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period occurs annually from January 1 through March 31. During this time, Medicare Advantage enrollees can change their current plan if they are not satisfied with the coverage.
During this time, any changes to your Medicare Advantage plan will go into effect on the first day of the following month. For example, any changes you make in February are effective on March 1.
Who is Eligible for the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
You must already have Medicare Advantage coverage to use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. This timeframe is not for first-time enrollees but rather for those currently enrolled who wish to make a change.
This enrollment period does not give you guaranteed issue rights for a Medicare Supplement plan. You may disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and apply for Medigap coverage to pair with Original Medicare. Yet, you may still face denial due to pre-existing health conditions.
What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
This is the only opportunity Medicare Advantage enrollees receive to change their plan for the current year. Thus, utilizing this window period is crucial if you think you may be unhappy with your coverage for the rest of the year.
During this enrollment period, beneficiaries can:
- Change to a new Medicare Advantage/Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan
- Disenroll from Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare
Unlike the Annual Enrollment Period in the fall, you can only make one change to your coverage. This change goes into effect at the start of the following month. So, if you decide to disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage Plan, you must either enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare.
If you return to Original Medicare, you will have the opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Because neither Original Medicare nor Medigap plans offer the prescription drug coverage that often comes with Medicare Advantage, it is wise to use this chance to find a policy.
How to Utilize the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
If you are unhappy with your current Medicare Advantage coverage and wish to make a change, contacting the right agent during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period is crucial. It is essential to review all available plans during this time to fully understand what coverage option is best, as you can only make one change.
Once you choose, you commit to this coverage until the following year. Your next opportunity to change your Medicare Advantage plan is not until the Annual Enrollment Period in the fall for an effective date of January 1.