Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan only to find out later that you made a mistake is frustrating. Enrolling in the wrong plan can cost you; cost you money and cost you lost opportunity to be taking advantage of a better choice.
If you are unhappy with your current choice, you may have an opportunity to make a change after the annual enrollment period has ended. You don’t necessarily need to be locked into a bad Medicare Advantage plan.
This article will address the ways that you can cancel a Medicare Advantage plan or change to a new Medicare Advantage plan that you believe will be a better choice.
Get me out of here! Canceling your Medicare Advantage plan
Gone are the days when you had the first 3 months of the year to test drive your Medicare Advantage plan and make a like-to-like plan change. You now have an opportunity to drop your plan and return to original Medicare.
Between January 1st and February 14th you can dis-enroll from your current plan. This does not mean you are able to switch into another Advantage plan. You will instead return to original Medicare. You are then free to compare Part D, choose a plan and submit an application to purchase a Medigap policy if you wish.
You will be covered by your current plan through the end of the month in which you drop your plan. Your stand-alone Part D plan will become effective the first of the following month. There could be a lag in coverage with a Medigap policy due to varying underwriting times. Check with a local insurance agent to review underwriting guidelines.
Change Medicare Advantage plans anytime – well maybe
You do have a Special Enrollment Period that applies to both Medicare Advantage and Part D. The big question is whether or not you will be able to take advantage of it.
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are rated from 1 to 5 stars. These ratings can be reviewed by visiting medicare.gov and searching for Health and Drug Plans in your area. The new enrollment period allows you to switch into a 5 star rated plan as long as you are currently enrolled in a plan with 4.5 stars or less. You can enroll at anytime during the year but are only allowed to change one time.
Here’s the problem… there are very few 5 star plans available. You may not have any 5 star plans available in your area. To many people that seems about as fair as some areas having several Medicare Advantage plans to choose from, while others may not have any plans at all.
Now that some politicians are beating the drum for the privatization of Medicare things will need to get a little more equitable. You can’t force everyone into a private plan and then allow insurance companies to pick and choose where they play.
If your circumstances change you may be entitled to a Special Enrollment Period
Special Enrollment Periods are available to certain classes of people and to people who are undergoing a change in circumstance that renders their old insurance plan null and void.
If you receive extra help due to a limited income you are able to change plans as often as you would like. It’s strange that people who earn $1 more than the extra help qualification threshold AND struggle to make ends meet can’t change even if it will put them in a better position.
Most Special Enrollment Periods for people who do not receive extra help are a result of losing employer coverage or moving out of a plan’s service area. Review your Medicare and You Handbook to see all qualifying events.
If you have a Special Enrollment Period you should certainly take advantage of it to maintain coverage. And if you are unhappy with your current choice and would like to change Medicare plans, either take advantage of the dis-enrollment period or search medicare.gov to determine if you have any 5 star plan options.