There are a variety of different Medicare enrollment periods. Why does the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) matter? Understanding Medicare enrollment periods is important, especially as they can have a significant impact on your health coverage and costs. We’re here to make understanding the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period easy.
What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, allows you to make a single change regarding your current coverage. You can change Medicare Advantage plans or swap from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare (Parts A and B).
This beginning-of-year enrollment period directly follows the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which occurs near the end of every year. Insurance plans run on a calendar year basis, and you may discover that the plan you enrolled in during AEP doesn’t actually suit your needs. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period gives individuals who are unsatisfied with their coverage the opportunity to switch plans rather than being stuck with the same coverage for an entire year.
What changes can be made during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
This enrollment period only applies to you if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have one opportunity to:
- Switch to another Medicare Advantage plan
- Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
- If you do this, you will be eligible to join a Part D Prescription Drug plan
- This switch does not make you eligible for a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. You can still go through medical underwriting to qualify for a Medigap plan.
If you switch to a new plan or drop a Medicare Advantage plan for Original Medicare, your new plan will begin on the first day of the month following your enrollment.
Why use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?
You shouldn’t have to stick with a Medicare plan that you don’t love. There are several reasons why you may choose to switch plans during this enrollment period, including:
You have a plan that doesn’t suit your needs
If for any reason you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t suit your needs or situation, this enrollment period is for you. This period gives you the opportunity to find out which other plans are available to you and switch to something that’s a better fit. Many Medicare Advantage plans change their prices and benefits yearly, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently expanded their guidelines to allow new benefits as well. You may be able to find a plan that offers services more in line with your specific needs.
You missed the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)
MA OEP directly follows Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7) when enrollment for Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (Prescription Drug) plans are available. However, if you miss this enrollment period for any reason and you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, MA OEP provides an opportunity to enroll in a different plan.
You have changing needs
Perhaps you enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), but your needs have changed, or you discovered the plan isn’t actually a great fit for your lifestyle. During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you can enroll in a different plan rather than staying in a plan that doesn’t suit your healthcare needs for an entire year.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period may be helpful to you if any of the above describes your current Medicare enrollment situation. Just remember, you can only make a single change between January 1 and March 31, and you will have to keep that plan until the next Annual Enrollment Period.
Open Enrollment 2022
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment in 2022 occurred January 1 through March 31.
If you’re looking for the chance to change to your coverage for the next year, which is often called “open enrollment” in marketplace insurance, you’ll want to take a look at the Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare’s equivalent of open enrollment in 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period ends on March 31 every year (Jan 1 – Mar 31). If you’re looking for the end-of-year enrollment opportunity that is often called “open enrollment,” it is called the Annual Enrollment Period and it ends on December 7 every year (Oct 15 – Dec 7).
You can change Medicare Advantage plans through an insurance carrier, online, or with the help of a licensed insurance agent. There are opportunities to change Medicare Advantage plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, Annual Enrollment Period, or Special Enrollment Periods.
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Last Updated: November 1, 2022 MULTIPLAN_ETQEZMwebsite_0722_M