New Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 11/06/2018

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Want to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan? Starting in 2019, you’ll have a new opportunity to do so. You’ll have more time to enroll (or disenroll). We’ve captured the details of the Medicare Advantage open enrollment changes below.

Changes to the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period in 2019

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (January 1 – February 14 every year) will be replaced with a different arrangement. This will be effective starting in 2019, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period lets you drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). It also lets you sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.

What’s the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

In 2019, a new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period will run from January 1 – March 31 every year. If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll have a one-time opportunity to:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B
  • Sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (if you return to Original Medicare). Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage already. Usually you can’t enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug plan if you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, but there are some situations where you can. Call your Medicare Advantage plan if you have questions.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment: why would I want to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans have certain benefits you can always count on. That is, they deliver your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits (except hospice care, which Part A covers). Many of them also include coverage beyond Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). For example, most plans include prescription drug coverage, and some include routine vision services or other benefits.

But these extra benefits (beyond Part A and Part B) can change year to year. For example, suppose you take certain medications and you have a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Your plan might cover your prescriptions. But sometimes a plan changes its formulary (list of covered medications).

Every fall, your plan will send you an Annual Notice of Change. Pay attention to this, because it lists any changes to your benefits or plan rules. A plan formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

Medicare Part D open enrollment: why would I want to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan?

Most (but not all) Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. But Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t include this benefit. Instead, Original Medicare may cover certain prescription drugs in specific situations, like if you’re in a hospital or clinic.

So, if you drop your Medicare Advantage plan to return to Original Medicare, you might want to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period described above lets you do this.

Would you like to know more about the various Medicare open enrollment periods? I can explain them to you. To arrange a phone call with me, follow the links below. Anytime you want, you can click the Find Plans or Compare Plans buttons on this page to see a list of plans in your area.

Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.

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