There are certain periods of time when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage. These periods of time are called enrollment periods.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you may be able to use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP).


•    The MA OEP occurs each year from January 1 through March 31.
•    During the MA OEP you can switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan or to Original Medicare with or without a prescription drug plan.
•    You may only make one change during this period, and it will be effective the first of the next month after you make the change.
•    Remember, you can only use this enrollment period if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.


Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to change your Medicare health and drug coverage.


•    There are many circumstances in which you may have a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), such as if you moved outside of your plan’s service area, your Medicare Advantage Plan terminated a significant amount of its network providers, or you are enrolled in a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SNAP).
•    Those with Extra Help, the federal program that helps pay for drug costs, have an SEP to enroll in a Part D plan or switch between plans once per quarter in the first three quarters of the year.
•    If you need to make changes to your coverage but you are not sure whether you qualify for an SEP, call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) to learn more. If you do not know how to contact your SHIP, call 877-839-2675 or visit www.shiptacenter.org.
If you enrolled in a plan by mistake or because of misleading information, you may be able to disenroll and change plans.
•    Typically, you have the right to change plans if you joined unintentionally, joined based on incorrect or misleading information, or, through no fault of your own, were kept in a plan you did not want.
•    You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to explain to a customer service representative how you joined the plan by mistake and to request retroactive disenrollment or a Special Enrollment Period.
Finally, both individuals with Original Medicare and those with a Medicare Advantage Plan can make changes during Fall Open Enrollment.
•    The Fall Open Enrollment Period occurs each year from October 15 through December 7.
•    During this period you can join a new Medicare Advantage Plan or stand-alone prescription drug plan (Part D) plan. You can also switch between Original Medicare with or without a Part D plan and Medicare Advantage.
•    You can make as many changes as you need during this period, and your last coverage choice will take effect January 1.

As you can see, there are various enrollment periods in which you can change your Medicare coverage. Which enrollment period you use depends on your specific circumstances and the kind of coverage you have.

- Marci

Dear Marci is a free e-newsletter from the Medicare Rights Center (www.medicarerights.org), the nation’s largest independent source of information and assistance for people with Medicare. For more free answers to your Medicare questions, visit Medicare Interactive (MI) at www.medicareinteractive.org. Subscribe to Dear Marci by registering for your free account on Medicare Interactive.  

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