When Can I Change My Medicare Advantage Plan

If we lived in a perfect world, you would be more than satisfied with your new Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans may be a perfect coverage option for some individuals. However, situations occur, and maybe you realize that your family doctor doesn’t accept your plan, or maybe you did not fully understand the deductibles, copays, and prior authorizations with your plan.

Can you make changes to your  Medicare Advantage Plan after the open enrollment season has ended? Yes, in some situations you are able to make needed changes. Your opportunity to make those changes will depend on when and how long you have been enrolled in your current plan.

There are certain situations that will allow a person to make changes.

  1. Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

You can get out of your Medicare Advantage plan between January 1st and March 31st.  This period is called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). During this time, you can switch back to Original Medicare or switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan.  If an individual is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as of January 1, then he/she may switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare and a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan. Your window of time to change is January 1 through March 31

  1. Medicare Advantage Trial Right Period

At some point you probably subscribed to a magazine or newspaper that had a trial subscription period.  Medicare Advantage plans have a trial right period that works in a similar way.  In general, Medicare Advantage trial rights are for individuals who enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time ever and it has been less than 12 months.

If you enroll in an Advantage Plan and it is your first time to do so, then you have a trial right period. You have ONE year to see if a Medicare Advantage plan is the right coverage option for you.  If you are dissatisfied before the year is over, you can switch back to Original Medicare.  You can do this at any point during that first year.

Example 1: Donna enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan when she turned 65. Her coverage had an effective date of May 1st . Her trial period will end on April 30th of the following year.

If Donna uses her trial right option, she may pick up a prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) and any Medicare Supplement available to her.  She must apply for Medicare Supplement coverage no earlier than 60 calendar days before, and no later than 63 days after, the date her Medicare Advantage coverage ends.

Example 2:  Steve decided to drop his Medicare Supplement, prescription drug plan, and Original Medicare for a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period. His new coverage has an effective date of January 1. His trial period will end on December 31.

Steve will only have the right to rejoin the Medicare Supplement plan he had before the switch. If his previous Medicare Supplement plan is no longer offered, he may enroll into a guaranteed issue plan sold by a different company. He will need to apply for Medicare Supplement coverage no earlier than 60 calendar days before the date his Medicare Advantage coverage ends and no later than 63 days after that date. He can also enroll a stand-alone prescription drug plan. 

More Questions

Your situation may be unique or you may have more questions concerning your options. Medicare has many  working parts.  Each one has different benefits, costs, and restrictions. Understanding your coverage options will help you make the right decisions about which plan(s) are best for you. We will assist with answering your questions and help you get a better understanding of your options.