See How You Can Switch Your Medicare Advantage Plan

By: Agnus Smith
Published: Thursday, January 17 2019
Last Updated: 4 years ago

When it comes to insurance, there are plenty of benefits of sticking with the private sector, and that sentiment even rings true with Medicare. Sure, Original Medicare provides you with most of the benefits you need, but Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage, and then some. For that reason, more American seniors are opting to enroll in these healthcare plans offered by private companies, but what happens when you need a new plan because there was a change in your life? If you’re wondering whether or not you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan, here’s what you need to know.

Can I Switch Medicare Advantage Plans?

Yes, you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan, however, there are limitations. Throughout each year, there are two separate enrollment periods that allow you to make the change. The first is Medicare’s Open Enrollment (AEP), which runs from October 15 to December 7. The second is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP), which runs each year from January 1 to March 31. During either of these times, you may be able to switch your Medicare Advantage plan to a more suitable policy.

There is also a third, lesser-known period, known as Special Enrollment. During the Special Enrollment Period (SEP), qualifying individuals will have free reign to switch their current coverage. We will touch more on this a bit later, but know that your SEP is not a set time during the year, but rather an enrollment period that is based on certain criteria and circumstances in your life.

Are There Any Limitations?

Yes, there are certain limitations you need to be aware of before you can make any changes to your Medicare Advantage plan. When you want to switch, and are outside of the MA OEP, you cannot. Also, if you are going to change from a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) policy to an Advantage policy, you might not be permitted to switch back. The reason you might not be able to switch back from an MA policy to a Medigap policy is there are underwriters for Medigap plans and not MA policies.

What Are The Advantages Of Changing Advantage Plans?

There are many advantages to switching your MA plan. Some benefits include a lower premium and better prescription drug coverage. When you change an MA plan, it usually means you are not getting the coverage you need or want from your current program. It is best then to look at all your available options.

Who Should Consider Making The Switch?

Anyone, who is not getting the coverage they need or want from their current plan. Also, if your plans were moving from the area, you might not want to consider traveling to the new space. Besides, the new city may not be feasible to go to the new area if your plan is moving your preferred physician out of its network. When switching Medicare Advantage plans, it is a good idea to weigh all your options.

How To Change Medicare Advantage Plans

When you want to change Medicare Advantage plans, merely call a Medicare agent in your area. The agent will walk you through the next steps in switching Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans in 2019 can be reconsidered until March 31. After this, you will need a particular circumstance to change your policy.

Special Circumstances To Switch Plans in 2019?

Some special circumstances when you will want to change your MA plan outside of open enrollment include the following.

  • Move from state
  • Doctor moved out-of-network
  • Plan moved out of the area
  • Lost employer or union coverage
  • Spouse can no longer insure you

Remember to change your plan is not always going to be easy. Say you want to remove a Medigap plan and special circumstances do apply. You might not be able to get that plan back since there are usually underwriters involved with Medigap plans.

What Happens to my Old MA Plan When I Switch?

You can only have one MA plan at a time. If you do switch during an Open Enrollment Period, your Medicare will automatically disenroll you from your old plan. There is nothing more to do.

Can You Change Back To Original Medicare?

Yes, as long as it is during an Open Enrollment Period. You can make all the changes you want as long as it is a unique or open enrollment. You can create as many changes as you want during a special or open registration.

Providing you will want to have a stand-alone prescription plan. What we mean is that if you are changing from an MA to traditional Medicare, you might want to consider an independent prescription drug plan. The reason being is that traditional Medicare does not cover prescription drugs.

If you are someone who takes many prescriptions and has traditional Medicare, you will want to save on prescription drugs by having a plan. Because the cost of prescription drugs can add up fast, the stand-alone prescription plan will help offset the cost of prescriptions.