Enrollment & Enrollment Periods
You must meet the following conditions to join a Medicare Advantage plan:
- You have Part A & Part B.
- You are living in the plan’s service area.
- You don’t have End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
- You are a U.S. citizen or lawfully present in the United States.
- You can join a Medicare Advantage Plan even if you have pre-existing conditions, except End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). There are special rules in place for ESRD.
- You can only join or leave a Medicare Advantage plan at certain times during the year.
- Each year, Medicare Advantage plans can choose to leave Medicare or make some changes to their services that they cover and what you’ll pay. If the plan decides to stop participating in Medicare, you will have the opportunity to join another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare.
When can you join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan?
- When you become eligible for Medicare for the first time, you can sign up during your Initial Enrollment Period.
- If you have Part A coverage and you’ll be getting Part B for the first time during the General Enrollment Period, you can also join a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Between October 15th – December 7th, anyone with Medicare and join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage plan. If you enroll during this period, your coverage will begin on January 1st.
Am I allowed to make changes to my coverage after December 7th?
Between January 1st – February 14th, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can leave that plan and switch to Original Medicare. If you switch to Original Medicare during this time, you will have until February 14th to also join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to add drug coverage. Your coverage will start the first day of the month after the plan gets your enrollment application. During this time, you can’t:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Switch from one Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to another.
- Join, switch, or cancel a Medicare Medical Savings Account plan.
Special Enrollment Periods
In most situations, you have to stay enrolled for the calendar year starting the day that your coverage begins. However, there are certain situations that will allow you to join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage plan during a Special Enrollment Period. Here are some examples:
- You move out of your plan’s service area.
- You have Medicaid.
- You qualify for Extra Help.
- You live in an institution (such as, a nursing home).
How do I switch plans?
If you’re already on a Medicare Advantage plan and want to make a change, use the following steps:
- To switch to a new Medicare Advantage Plan, simply join the plan you choose during one of the enrollment periods explained earlier. You’ll be disenrolled automatically from your old plan when your plan’s coverage begins.
- To switch to Original Medicare, contact your current plan, or call MEDICARE. If you do not have drug coverage, you should consider joining a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. You may also want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy if you are eligible.
Need more information on Medicare Advantage plans and enrollment periods? Our Mentors can assist you!
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