Medicare Advantage open enrollment period
Everyone has probably heard about the Medicare annual enrollment period, but there is another opportunity to change your MA plan. This is opportunity is available during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period or the MAOEP.
The MAOEP basics:
- This enrollment period starts on January 1 and ends on March 31 each year. During this time MA/MAPD enrollees can make plan changes.
- During this time MA/MAPD enrollees may switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or back to Original Medicare.
- If you make a change during this period, it will go into effect the first day of the following month after your application is submitted.
A few details about the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period:
The MAOEP or Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is an additional enrollment period available to only MA/MAPD enrollees. It begins January 1 through March 31 each year. Members of Medicare Advantage plans can either change to a different Medicare Advantage plan or to Original Medicare. Beneficiaries are only permitted to make one plan change during this time.
This is a great opportunity for those people who missed the Annual Enrollment period for some reason. If their MA/MAPD plan had auto renewed and it had changed in ways that no longer met their needs, this is an opportunity to fix that.
It is also a chance for those who are not happy with a new plan they chose during AEP (Oct 15 through Dec 7) to make a change that better fits their needs.
Switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
Beneficiaries who switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare are eligible to purchase Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) coverage.
It is important to note; beneficiaries who have Original Medicare and Part D coverage cannot use this enrollment period to change their coverage. This Enrollment period is exclusively for Medicare Advantage enrollees.
Another important thing to understand is; if you want to change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare during this time, you may not have guaranteed issue rights for Medicare Supplement coverage. This depends on the state you reside in (there are only 4 guaranteed issue states) or how long you have had a Medicare Advantage plan.
Most beneficiaries make plan changes during the AEP that runs from Oct 14 through Dec 7 each year. It is the best time to change plans. If you change during this time and you are not happy the MAOEP gives you a chance to change back or to another plan. If you wait until the MAOEP, you cannot change plans again until the following AEP.
It is important to consider all your options carefully. A licensed insurance agent can help you see all your options side by side and make an informed decision.
Keep in mind; making a plan change during AEP and having your new plan start in January is really the best way to keep your annual out-of-pocket cost down. If you start the year with one plan and then change plans a few months later, you will have to start over with a new deductible and out-of-pocket maximum.