What Is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

Senior man biking in the park during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period


Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period – Have second thoughts about the Medicare Advantage plan you enrolled in? The good news is every year, you get a second chance to choose a new plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. In this article, we’ll talk about what you can do during this time and give you a few considerations to think about before making any changes.

What Can I Do During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

There are several enrollment periods within the federal Medicare program, and they can be hard to keep track of, especially since some of them have very similar names! For example, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) occurs at exactly the same time as the General Enrollment Period (GEP), but they are for two different groups of people.

This enrollment window runs from January 1 to March 31 every year. Anyone who is already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can make one of two changes if they’re not happy with their current plan. Only one change is allowed during this time.

First, they can simply choose another Medicare Advantage plan. They can change to a different plan with the same company or switch carriers altogether.

Second, they can choose to disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B). In either scenario, the change will become effective on the first day of the month following the change request.

Senior woman resting and stroking her dog during walking in forest with Medicare Advantage
Medicare supplements will help with expenses that remain after Original Medicare pays its portion.

What to Consider Before Making a Change During OEP

If you switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, you are probably already familiar with how these plans work. If you aren’t happy with your current plan, you should look for a new plan that fits your needs better.

Most of the concern comes from switching from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare.

If you are switching back to Original Medicare alone, you should understand the costs you’ll be responsible for under Parts A and B. You will have deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts for each part. Plus, there is no annual out-of-pocket limit like with Advantage plans.

This problem can be solved by enrolling in a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan. Medicare supplements will help with expenses that remain after Original Medicare pays its portion. The amount of coverage you’ll have depends on which of the letter plans you enroll in. (There are about ten plans, each title with a letter of the alphabet.)

However, not everyone will be eligible to enroll in a Medigap plan. Once your Initial Enrollment Period ends, you do not have guaranteed issue rights to a supplement. Insurance companies can deny coverage because of your health history or choose to raise your premiums if you have more healthcare needs than the average person.

One way you’ll still be eligible for a Medigap plan is if you’re within your Trial Right period. The first time you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have a 12-month trial period. If during that time, you wish to go back to your Medigap plan, you can do so.

Some states have different guaranteed issue rights. Regardless, you should find out if you will be eligible for a Medicare supplement before disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan.

If you switch back to Original Medicare, the other thing to consider is that you will need to enroll in a separate Part D plan. There are many plans available, and you will choose one based on your medications and pharmacy.

Need help making a change to your Medicare Advantage plan during the Open Enrollment Period? Our licensed insurance agents are just a phone call away. Our team specializes in Medicare and can help you make informed decisions on your healthcare coverage.