Medicare’s annual open enrollment period just ended on December 7. If you missed the deadline, you might be wondering if you’re stuck with your old plan until next October 15, when enrollment opens again. Fortunately, there are a few situations in which you can still make changes to your Medicare plan(s).
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MAOEP). From January 1 to March 31, those who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can switch to a different Advantage plan if desired. Or, you can drop Medicare Advantage entirely, and go back to Original Medicare. However, before dropping your Advantage plan, keep in mind that you’ll lose the benefit of an out-of-pocket spending cap on approved medical services, because Original Medicare does not have one. You might also lose access to your network of providers.
The main thing you can’t do is move from Original Medicare into an Advantage plan at this time.
Switch to a five-star Medicare plan. Medicare plans are rated each fall. If you’re not enrolled in a five-star plan, you can move into a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare Cost Plan, or Medicare Prescription Drug plan between December 8 and November 30. You can only switch plans once, and you must select a five-star plan in order to make a change.
Consider a Medigap plan. Certain Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, or Medigap plans, will allow you to purchase coverage outside of the regular annual enrollment period. Eligibility depends upon numerous factors and is subject to underwriting approval, so discuss this issue with your insurance professional to see if this is a viable option for you. However, even if it is, this could affect your prescription drug coverage and you could be subject to a penalty when enrolling outside of the Annual Enrollment Period.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period. Certain life changes will allow you a Special Enrollment Period, during which you can make changes to your Medicare plan. If you move, lose access to certain insurance coverage, have an opportunity to enroll in a new form of coverage, or your plan changes its contract with Medicare, you might be eligible for a special enrollment period. Certain other situations also quality you to make changes outside of the usual enrollment period. You can learn more about those here.
If you find yourself dissatisfied with your Medicare plan outside of the annual enrollment period, give us a call. We can discuss your concerns and investigate whether one of the above options might provide a solution for you.