Older adults and people with disabilities who are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan have until March 31 to switch to another MA plan or to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D) during the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP).
The MA OEP occurs each year from January 1 through March 31, and it is only available to people who have a Medicare Advantage plan. One change can be made during this period, which will take effect the first of the month following the month you enroll. For example, if you switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan in February, your new coverage begins March 1.
Changes that can be made during this period include switching to:
- a different MA plan with drug coverage;
- a different MA plan without drug coverage;
- Original Medicare and a Part D plan; or
- Original Medicare without a Part D plan.
If you have an MA plan and a separate Part D plan, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan that does not include drug coverage or Original Medicare, but you cannot change Part D plans.
People who want to leave their Medicare Advantage plan and enroll in Original Medicare, should contact Medigap insurers in their state to learn if they can purchase a Medigap policy.
Medigaps are health insurance policies that work with Original Medicare and pay part or all of certain remaining costs such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments after Original Medicare pays first. There are federally protected times when someone can purchase a Medigap. Outside of these protected times, companies can refuse to sell Medigap policies, impose certain medical requirements, charge a higher monthly premium, and/or require a six-month waiting period before the Medigap will cover pre-existing conditions.
Some states have other protections that give their residents additional opportunities to enroll in a Medigap policy. It’s important to contact Medigap insurers in your area when considering Original Medicare.
New Guide from the Medicare Rights Center
Starting in 2019, there are several other important changes to Medicare that will affect enrollment, Medicare Advantage Plans, and prescription drug coverage.
A free guide from the Medicare Rights Center is available on Medicare Interactive that explains what people with Medicare can expect in 2019.
Download the guide at https://www.medicareinteractive.org/medicare-in-2019.