Did you know that you might be able to change your Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare Advantage Open Enrolment Period?

It’s true. Whether you’ve just enrolled in Medicare or have been with your current plan for years, you have an opportunity to change plans during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is DIFFERENT from the Annual Election Period (AEP).

There are many reasons people may decide to change their MAPD plan during this time. Sometimes their current doctor or providers may no longer accept their current plan.  Maybe their plan changed and they didn’t realize it.

Or they may find another plan that offers additional benefits such as a gym membership, or wellness services. Often Medicare beneficiaries are looking for better coverage on services such as dental, vision, or hearing. For whatever reason, if you are not happy with your current MAPD plan, you can enroll in a new MAPD plan during the open enrollment period (OEP).

When is the Open Enrollment Period?

According to Medicare.gov, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period (OEP) begins on January 1st and ends on March 31st each year.

CMS (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) reinstated the OEP In January of 2019. This replaced the Medicare Advantage disenrollment period which used to run from January 1st to February 14th each year.

If you take advantage of the OEP and enroll in a new plan, the new plan will go into effect on the first of the month following your application signature date. So, for example, if you complete an application on January 10th, your new policy will be effective on February 1st. If you complete an application on March 20th, your new policy will be effective on April 1st.

What is the difference between the Medicare Annual Election Period and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

There is often a lot of confusion surrounding Medicare and the enrollment periods. The main differences between Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment and Medicare Annual Enrolment are who can use each one and when they can use them.

AEP is the Annual election period. This runs from October 15th through December 7th of each year. During this time anyone who has Medicare can make changes in their coverage. These changes will go into effect on January 1st of the upcoming year.

During this time Medicare Beneficiaries can make the following changes:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Move from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement Plan (Also known as Medigap) with a prescription drug plan
  • Change Prescription Drug plans
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as long as you have both Medicare Parts A and B.
  • You can also enroll in a new prescription drug plan if you did not enroll when you were first eligible for Medicare. Keep in mind, if you have not maintained other creditable coverage, a late-enrollment penalty may apply

And you can make MULTIPLE changes during this time period, and the LAST ONE in prior to the end of the AEP “sticks”.

Caution:  The annual Medicare open enrollment period doesn’t apply to Medigap policies.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment (OEP) is only for people who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. During the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period the following changes can be made:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch to Original Medicare and enroll in a Medigap Policy with a Prescription Drug plan. Depending on the circumstances, qualification for a Medigap insurance policy may require medical under­writing.

Many people who want to move from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare with a Supplement Plan make the change during the OEP.  Keep in mind, however, that regardless of whether you use the AEP or the OEP to change to a Medicare Supplement Plan, you’ll likely have to go through Medical Underwriting, which means your enrollment into a Supplement Plan is NOT guaranteed.  Be sure that you work with a qualified professional if you are making that type of change.

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