Q: Can I still make changes to my Medicare coverage for 2016?
A: For 2016 coverage, open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D ran from October 15, 2015 to December 7, 2015.
For people who were on Medicare Advantage at the start of 2016, there was also a Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period from January 1 to February 14, 2016.
But if there’s a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan in your area that has earned the government’s five-star (excellent) rating, you’re allowed to switch onto that plan anytime between December 8 and November 30. This is called the 5-star special enrollment period, and you’re allowed to utilize it one time during that period.
For 2016, there are a total of 17 plans (from 12 different insurance companies) that have a five-star rating. 12 are Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage, three are Medicare Advantage plans without prescription coverage, and two are prescription-only (Medicare Part D) plans. A full list of the 17 plans is available on page 3 of this document.
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. (Be aware that not all of the special enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D apply to Medigap plans).
But you can still apply for a Medigap plan outside of open/special enrollment periods – just be aware that the carrier will use medical underwriting to determine whether to accept your application, and how much to charge you.