What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

The Medicare open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage Plan starts on January 1 and lasts till March 31. This period is set to enable eligible individuals to join, switch, or even drop their current Medicare plans. Keep reading the article to learn more about this period and its benefits for changing your health insurance.

Different Enrollment Periods

There are different periods when eligible individuals can enroll in different plans. During enrollment periods, individuals can join or drop plans, switch to different plans, or make other similar changes. 

Individuals can change or drop their Medicare Health Plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) during the following periods:

  • Initial enrollment. It's a period when the person becomes eligible to get Medicare for the first time. 

  • Open enrollment. The period starts on October 15 and ends on December 7 annually. Eligible individuals can join, switch, and drop their current plans during open enrollment. The expense coverage starts on January 1, but only if the organization receives your request before December 7.

  • Medicare Advantage Plan open enrollment. The period lasts three months, from January 1 to March 31. During this period, an individual can join Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to an Original Medicare. Moreover, individuals can also join separate Medicare drug plans, for instance, choose Plan C instead of Plan A. The switch is allowed only once during this period. 

So, AARP open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage Plan lasts around three months. However, you can make only one change during this period. So, consider all the pros and cons of changing a Medicare Plan. Otherwise, you would have to wait for a year to add changes. 

Now that you know when open enrollment for Medicare plans, let's dive into the details of the Medicare Advantage Plan. 

Understanding Open Enrollment Medicare Advantage

The open enrollment Medicare Advantage is a period that offers some extra time annually during which you can make one change to your current Medicare Advantage plan. Here are the changes you can make:

  • Switch current Plan for a different Medicare Advantage plan.

  • Drop the current Medicare Advantage plan to switch to the Original Medicare. However, you must subscribe to an additional plan, which is Medicare Part D. The Original Medicare doesn't have a prescription drug part included, so you may end up without one if you switch to the Original Plan.

However, eligible individuals must subscribe to the Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Only then can they switch to any available Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan. 

If you plan to switch to Medicare Advantage Plan, ensure you know when to subscribe to the Original Medicare plan.

When it's Medicare open enrollment period, you can drop the Original Plan and sign up for the Advantage one. It would be wise to analyze your options beforehand, that is, before turning 65 and becoming eligible. 

If you turn 65 before or during open enrollment for Medicare Advantage Plan (January 1 — March 31), you can quickly enroll for Original Medicare and then switch to Advantage Plan. However, ensure you evaluate all pros and cons before making such a decision. 

Open Enrollment Vs Annual Enrollment

The difference between open enrollment Medicare Advantage and Medicare Annual enrollment periods is obvious: different times to sign up for a plan. Medicare Annual Enrollment period starts on October 15 and lasts till December 7 each year. The Medicare Advantage period starts on January 1 and lasts till March 31.

Another difference is that Medicare Annual enrollment period enables anyone with Medicare to make changes to their plans. At the same time, the Medicare Advantage plan allows only specific changes and switching to certain plans. 

How to Prepare to Switch to Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment?

The enrollment period enables users to switch or sign up for certain plans. Whether you have been using Medicare for a while or are enrolling for the first time, you can easily change the Plan. 

Before switching, consider all advantages and disadvantages. If you have experience using a specific plan and don't like it, read other people's reviews on the Plan you want to choose. 

You should also consider the following factors before choosing a different healthcare plan:

  • Whether your doctor or other medical provider supports the Plan.

  • Whether the Plan covers expenses on prescription drugs that you need.

  • Whether you can get dental, vision, and hearing care coverage.

  • Whether the Plan is affordable for you. Check co-pay and coinsurance options and whether the costs can be deduced.

  • Whether you are satisfied with additional services, such as fitness programs, nurse line, etc. 

And the most critical part is to ensure you have time to switch. As mentioned, the enrollment period lasts three months. It seems like a long period, but you must prepare documents, submit an application, etc. That's why it's important to research your options beforehand. 

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