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How and when you can change your coverage

Medicare's annual open enrollment has ended, but there are still opportunities to change your coverage over the next 10 months

Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D coverage ended on December 7, but if you’re thinking about changing your coverage, you’ve still got options:

  • Starting December 8 – and through November 30 – 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).
  • 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 carriers will use medical underwriting to determine whether to accept your application, and how much to charge you.
  • 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.
  • 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).

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

How well do you understand Medicare’s coverage options? Take our new Medicare Smarts Quiz to see if you are ready to shop for new coverage.

Ready or not, you can always learn more right here. The articles on this site are authored by a team of veteran healthcare writers who know the health insurance industry, understand the political battles over healthcare – and, most importantly, who know the needs of consumers.

In these pages, you can tap into an extensive collection of resources, including:

We hope you’ll find the answers to all your burning questions. If you can’t, please don’t hesitate to send us your questions.