Whoops! Medicare’s Annual Election Period (AEP) came and went, from October 15 to December 7. So what do you do, if you’ve just realized that you missed your chance to evaluate your Medicare plan options and switch to a more suitable plan? Do you have to wait until next fall, or is there something else you can do?
Depending upon your individual situation, you might have at least one more opportunity to make changes to your Medicare plan(s).
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. If you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (also called Medicare Part C) but wish to change plans, you will be given the opportunity to do so during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment, which happens from January 1 to March 31. So if you missed your chance during AEP, hold on until January 1. At that point, those of you with Medicare Advantage plans can take the following actions, as suitable to your situation:
- Switch from your Medicare Advantage plan to a different Advantage plan
- Drop Medicare Advantage and go back to Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B)
- Add a Part D (prescription drug) plan, if you return to Original Medicare
It’s important to note that this enrollment period is only available to those of you already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. So if you’re on Original Medicare, the Open Enrollment period doesn’t apply to you. But you do have one more option.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period. If you experience certain qualifying events, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period outside of AEP or Open Enrollment. These are events that would qualify you for a new Medicare plan, such as moving to a new coverage area, moving into or out of a nursing home, or being diagnosed with certain conditions which qualify you for a Special Needs Plan.
There are numerous qualifying events that can open up enrollment for you at any point during the year, so it’s best to contact your insurance broker to discuss the options available to you. We can help you analyze your situation and determine how best to proceed.