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Can One Change Medicare Plans, And If So, How?

Medicare is a popular program by the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 years of age or older. However, it applies to specific younger individuals who have disabilities.

If you have Medicare, you can switch from Original Medicare (Parts A & B) to Medicare Advantage (Part C) during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. However, you need to make some other decisions before you take this decision, depending on the type of coverage you choose.

 

How to Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage

Most Medicare Advantage plans cover your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits and prescription drugs (Part D). These plans also cover other items and health services included with Original Medicare. For example, vision, hearing, dental health coverage, and gym memberships. Such programs also have an annual out-of-pocket limit to protect you from high costs.

Shifting from an Original Medicare plan to a Medicare Advantage plan is possible during the Annual Enrollment Period every year, from October 15 to December 7.

Here are a few things you should remember when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan.

  • These plans come with an out-of-pocket limit. However, you will have built-in financial protection and don’t require a private Medicare plan.
  • Typically, you don’t have to buy any additional coverage as you may have with Original Medicare.
  • There is no need for a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan with Medicare Advantage. That’s because it has built-in drug coverage.

 

What Should I do after Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan?

The plan will work with Medicare and transfer your benefits as soon as you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during the enrollment period. There is no need to contact Medicare for any queries. The new plan coverage will be in effect from January 1.

You will have to contact the plan provider directly for dis-enrolling in case of a stand-alone Part D or other private Medicare plan. But the process is quick and easy; call the number on your insurance member ID card.

 

Can I Switch to Medicare Advantage Plans At any Time?

While you can’t switch to Medicare Advantage plans at your convenience, there are some options if you think your plan is not providing you the coverage you need.

You can quit your Medicare Advantage plan, jump to another plan or switch to your original Medicare plan during specific times every year. You can change to other plans too. Be wary of medication ns or doctors not covered under your Medicare Advantage plan.

If you have Medicare Advantage and want to change your plan, you have two opportunities.

  • October 15 to December 7
  • January 1 to March 31

 

Changing Medicare Advantage Plans after Open Enrollment

In some scenarios, you can switch Medicare Advantage plans after the open enrollment period.

The initial year in this plan is a trial period in two scenarios. You can switch to the original Medicare plan with the right to purchase Medigap supplemental insurance during the first year if:

  • you signed up for the plan after enrolling at 65
  • you left a Medigap policy and joined your first Advantage plan

If you have a five-star Medicare Advantage plan near you, join it during any time of the year. There is just one exception you can’t join it in the first week of December.

The five-star special enrollment period is available every year for a specific time. The coverage starts after the day when your enrollment request reaches the authorities.

When you are signed up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can shift to another Medicare Advantage Plan or Original Medicare from January 1 to March 31 every year.

 

Final Thoughts

If you did not enroll in Medicare because you or your spouse had employer health coverage, you could enroll in a plan within a couple of months of losing that coverage.

Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must sign up for Medicare Part A and B. There are many reasons why you think your current plan is not suitable for you. If you think you chose the wrong plan due to misleading or inaccurate information, you can contact the Medicare helpline and discuss your situation.

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