Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period ends March 31. Here’s what you need to know.
Medicare Advantage plans (also referred to as Medicare Part C) provides bundled medical and prescription-drug coverage plans through private insurance companies. For these plans, Medicare pays a private insurance company to provide health care coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan.
For Medicare Advantage enrollees there are important dates to understand relating to plan options.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period occurs each year from Jan. 1 to March 31. During this time, only individuals currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan have a one-time opportunity to:
- Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan OR
- Drop their current Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare and sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan
Jeanet Reyes-Cordero, Corporate Account Manager for Medicare Solutions at Advocate Aurora Health, further explains why Medicare Advantage enrollees need to understand this key enrollment period.
“If you’re dissatisfied with your current Medicare Advantage plan or have needs that recently changed, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period allows you the flexibility and option to make a one-time change during this 3 month period,” says Reyes-Cordero.
Before making a change, Reyes-Cordero suggests asking the following questions:
- Does my current Medicare Advantage plan allow me to see all the providers that are important to me?
- Are my prescription drugs covered and are these costs as reasonable as they can be?
- Have any of my plan’s costs increased over the last year?
- Does my current plan cover all the health care benefits that are most essential to me?
It’s important to evaluate and consider all options before making a change.
A few things to keep in mind:
- For individuals who switch Medicare Advantage plans or change to Original Medicare (with or without a drug plan), your new coverage will begin on the first day of the month after your new plan gets your request for coverage.
- If switching from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare, you may not have a guaranteed issue right to sign-up for a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan or more commonly called a Medigap policy.
- The next time an individual on a Medicare Advantage plan would have the opportunity to join, drop or change plans would be during the Annual Election Period, which occurs every year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.
- The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period doesn’t apply individuals on Original Medicare. Original Medicare enrollees may change plans during the Annual Election Period.
If considering making a change, you can start with the Medicare plan finder at Medicare.gov/plan-compare to view and compare plans.
Resources are available to those who may need assistance:
- If you are a resident of Illinois, Advocate Health Care Senior Services Counselors are available to provide free counseling and support services to assist with Medicare and insurance questions.
- If you are a Wisconsin resident, MyBenefacts offers free counseling and resources on Medicare planning.
- State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselors are available to assist you. To contact SHIP, visit www.shiptacenter.org or call 877-839-2675. TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
For more information on Medicare-related resources:
About the Author
Liz Fitzgerald, health enews contributor, is an integrated marketing coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication from Marquette University. Outside of work, Liz has a goal of visiting all U.S. national parks.