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The New Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period: What You Need to Know

Those who are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B are eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. The Medicare Advantage General Enrollment Period begins on Jan. 1 and runs through March 31. It is important to understand what is and is not allowed during this enrollment period.  

Return to Original Medicare

During the open enrollment period, beneficiaries can drop their advantage plans and return to Medicare Parts A and B. Once the Medicare Advantage Plan is dropped, citizens are immediately re-enrolled in the original Medicare. Then, beneficiaries have the option of enrolling in the Part D drug plan to supplement their coverage.

Change Plans

In the past, Medicare Advantage recipients could only change plans from Oct. 15 to Dec. 17. Now, Americans can change plans during this Open Enrollment Period. Those who are enrolled in a plan can find a new one and make the switch.

Get a Medicare Supplement Plan

Those who drop a Medicare Advantage plan during this period can apply for a Medicare supplement plan to increase their coverage. Enrollees who do not live in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, or Maine might have to go through the medical underwriting process before getting a new plan. People with pre-existing conditions can be turned down for a Medicare supplement plan. Others might have to pay higher premiums.

That’s because guaranteed issue rights (i.e., Medigap protections) are not in effect during this new enrollment period. Guaranteed rights mean insurance companies must sell recipients a Medigap policy, and it must cover pre-existing health conditions. Also, people who have pre-existing conditions cannot be charged more when guaranteed issue rights are enforced.

What Isn’t Allowed During the Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare recipients who do not currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan cannot sign up for one during this new enrollment period. Also, Medicare recipients who have Part D coverage cannot change plans.

People also cannot enroll in a Part D prescription plan unless they drop their Medicare Advantage Plan. Then, they are allowed to enroll in the drug plan.

What If You Don’t Have a Medicare Advantage Plan?

People who do not have a Medicare Advantage Plan and want one do have some options. The Initial Enrollment Period is when people commonly get Medicare Advantage Plans. This period starts three months prior to their 65th birthday and ends three months after. It is seven months total, counting the birth month.

Those who missed that period have to wait for the Fall Open Enrollment Period. This period is open from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, changes take effect on Jan. 1.

Get Help Choosing a Plan

Enrolling in Medicare can be confusing. There are various enrollment periods throughout the year, so timing is important. Also, it can be difficult to choose between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan. Fortunately, you can compare policies online and find the one that meets your needs. You can also call 844-374-1950 and speak to a licensed insurance agent who will walk you through the process.