- medicareresources.org Editor
- April 2, 2018
Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D coverage is limited to roughly an eight-week period each year, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change your coverage during the other 44 weeks of the year. Here’s a quick rundown of your options:
Making changes to Medigap
- You can apply for a Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) plan at any time during the year. If you’re within the six-month open enrollment window that begins when you turn 65, the coverage is guaranteed issue. That is also the case if you’re in a special enrollment period triggered by a qualifying event.
- You can still apply for a Medigap plan outside of open/special enrollment periods – though in most states, carriers will use medical underwriting to determine whether to accept your application, and how much to charge you.
If you didn’t enroll when first eligible
- If you didn’t sign up for Medicare A and B when you were first eligible, you can enroll between January 1 and March 31, with coverage effective July 1, but you may be subject to a late enrollment penalty. (For Medicare Part B, the penalty is an additional 10 percent of the premium for each 12-month period that you were eligible but not enrolled, and did not have other creditable coverage in place. Medicare Part A is premium-free for most enrollees, based on work history.)
Changing or leaving Medicare Advantage plans
- There are several ways to leave Medicare Advantage, including the annual Medicare Advantage disenrollment period – which runs from January 1 to February 14 each year.
- From December 8 through November 30 each year – you can actually switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan – if you enroll in a plan in your area that has earned the government’s five-star (excellent) rating. (A list of plans that received the five-star rating for 2018 is available here; more data from CSM is available here).
For a thorough overview of the changes you can make to your coverage, read How do I change my Medicare coverage?
Knowing your coverage options is critical
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In these pages, you can tap into an extensive collection of resources, including:
- overview of Medicare’s plan options and benefits, from physical therapy to hospital beds and hospice care;
- explanations of when you can – and can’t – change your Medicare coverage
- an explanation of the gaps in Medicare’s coverage
- eligibility and enrollment guidelines;
- a glossary of Medicare terms;
- answers to the most frequently asked questions;
- links to dozens of resources, including providers and plans that are right for your needs.
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