If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period in the fall, you have a second enrollment period to make changes. This enrollment window is called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

When it comes to Medicare, it can be confusing or frustrating for people. You’re not alone. Unfortunately, there are many people that enroll in plans they didn’t fully understand.

Sometimes the agent they spoke to did them a disservice and didn’t put them on the appropriate plan for their needs. Other times there may have been a change and now you can’t see your favorite doctor. Whatever the reason, you should know you have options.

What’s the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP) starts on January 1st and continues until March 31st annually.

During this enrollment period you can make one change:

  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan, return to Original Medicare, and add a Part D drug plan.

Who does the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period apply to?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period applies to anyone that has a Medicare Advantage plan. Keep in mind, these are not Medicare Supplements.

A Medicare Advantage plan is usually a network-based plan that administers your Medicare benefits. A Medicare Supplement is an additional policy that covers part or all of your portions of the Original Medicare cost-share.

How many times can I change during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

When you make an election in the MAOEP and the plan begins, the election period has been used and you can’t make any more changes using that election period.

Since you’ll be locked in until the Annual Election Period, or unless you qualify for another Special Enrollment Period you should make your choice wisely

When will my new Medicare Advantage or Part D plan go into effect?

When you enroll in a plan using the MAOEP, your new plan will start on the first day of the following month. For example, if you enrolled in your new plan on January 15th, the new plan will take effect on February 1st.

What’s the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period?

Back in 2010, the ACA legislation discontinued the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. The enrollment window ran annually between January 1st and February 14th. This caused many problems for beneficiaries.

Without this enrollment period, it forced them to stay in a plan they didn’t want or couldn’t use for an entire year. Thankfully, back in 2019, CMS introduced the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

What to Consider When Making a Change

Many people just made a plan change for the new year during AEP. If you or someone you know are thinking about taking advantage of the MAOEP & making another change, here are a few things to consider.

Review All Your Options

Many times when someone makes a change, unfortunately, the person that helped them doesn’t consider all of the options in the area. This is usually the situation when the agent only has access to one or two carriers.

Did the agent tell you about all your options, or just one or two? If the agent did not narrow down your options based on a needs assessment, it’s recommended to take a second look during the MAOEP.

Fully Understand the New Plan Before You Enroll

Similar to the above reason, if you don’t understand why you choose the plan you enrolled in, perhaps you should take a second look. It’s important to know why you or the agent you worked with chose the plan you’re enrolled in. This will help you determine your next move.

Consider if Your Needs Will Change in the Future

Consider this, your cardiologist was showing in-network in October when you completed your new application. You schedule an appointment for January 5th. Upon arrival, you found out that your cardiologist is not going to take the new plan for next year.

Maybe upon your first appointment of the year, your doctor prescribes you a new medication. Is the coverage you have still be best for the drugs you’re taking?

Perhaps, you didn’t know there was a plan that reduced the amount you pay for Medicare Part B and you would benefit from having around $100 back in your social security check each month.

Understand All the Gaps in Your Coverage

It’s wise not only to know the positives of your coverage but also the negatives. If you have an HMO plan, did you realize you’ll always need a referral? Maybe you have a PPO but never travel. Do you realize the HMO style plans usually have stronger benefits?

Did you consider a Medicare Supplement plan? Considering it’s the strongest and most comprehensive coverage, you should always consider it.

How to Get Help During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

Are you wondering if you made the correct choice for your plan this year? Did you work with someone that only represented one insurance company? Are you wondering if there was something with more benefits?

I would highly recommend enlisting the assistance of an experienced licensed insurance broker that represents multiple options. When dealing with someone that has many options, it’s more likely they’ll have a plan and company that truly fits your needs.

We can help you with this. Give us a call today, or fill out our online form. We would love to help point you in the right direction for your needs. And at the very least confirm what you already have fits your needs properly.

Picture of the author
by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.