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Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: When Is It and How Can I Sign Up?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period) isn’t as well known as the Annual Election Period, but you can make many of the same changes.

When is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, and What Changes Can I Make?

In 2020, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP) begins on January 1st and ends March 31st. During this time, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll be able to:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch back to Original Medicare and apply for a Medicare Supplement plan
  • Sign up for a Part D Prescription Drug plan, if you’re leaving an Advantage plan and will lose your drug coverage

During this time, you cannot:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to an MA Plan
  • Join a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan if you are enrolled in Original Medicare
  • Switch from a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another

Are There Any Other Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment Periods?

Yes, you can change your plan outside the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. Most people make changes to their plan during the Annual Election Period, which starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th. During the Annual Election Period, you can make all of the same changes that you would during the MAOEP. You can also switch to a different Part D Prescription Drug plan if you already have one, or leave Original Medicare and pick up a Medicare Advantage plan.  

You can also make changes to your Advantage plan if you move at any point in the year and lose your coverage as a result of that. You’ll be able to make the same changes as you’d be able to during the Annual Election Period.

Summed up, you can make the following changes during the Annual Election Period, or if you have an Advantage plan and you move out of its coverage area:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch back to Original Medicare and apply for a Medicare Supplement plan
  • Sign up for or switch to a different Part D Prescription Drug plan
  • Leave Original Medicare and switch to a Medicare Advantage plan

How Do I Enroll in a New Plan During the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Periods?

Depending on what type of plan you’re changing to, your process will vary.

Medicare Advantage Plans

You don’t have to answer any medical questions when you apply for an Advantage plan, so Medicare Advantage enrollment is normally quick and easy. The application process is simple, and you don’t have to wait to find out if you’ve been approved. You can sign up online, over the phone, or in person. Because Advantage plans aren’t standardized, it’s important that you review the coverage details carefully, especially for information on your doctors’ network, out-of-pocket costs, and prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Supplements Plans

Medicare Supplement plans typically take a little longer to enroll in, because in most cases carriers can ask medical questions to determine if they’ll approve your application. This process is called medical underwriting, and is allowed most states. It’s important that you get your application into the carrier as early as possible because approval can take weeks during the Medicare Advantage enrollment periods, and you need to be approved before they end. If you return to Original Medicare without a Medicare Supplement plan, you could be responsible for large out-of-pocket costs. You can enroll online, over the phone, or in person.

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans

If you already have a Part D plan, you should still review your options every year. Carriers can make changes to their formularies, which means that even if your medications stay the same, your costs can change. When comparing plans, many people like to look at the total costs for the year to determine which one will save them the most money. You should also compare pharmacies to each other, as well as see if there’s a savings for the mail order option. You can sign up for Part D plans online, or over the phone

How Do I Know Which Plan I Should Sign Up For?

However, if you’re not sure which coverage is best for you, switching can be stressful. We have resources to help you compare Medicare Advantage plans to Medicare Supplement plans, decide between the most popular Medicare Supplement plans, and learn more about Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans.

Nothing on this website should ever be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.

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