How to Change Medicare Plans

by | May 1, 2023

As you age and your healthcare needs change, it’s important to review your Medicare coverage regularly to ensure it meets your current needs. If you’re not happy with your current Medicare plan, or if you’ve moved to a new area, you have the option to change your plan. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you change your Medicare plan.

Step 1: Determine when you can change your Medicare plan

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is the time frame when you can change most Medicare plans. The AEP runs from October 15th to December 7th each year. During this time, you can enroll in, switch to, or drop a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plan.

If you miss the AEP, you may be able to change your Medicare plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which takes place from January 1st to March 31st each year. OEP only applies to Medicare enrollees on a Medicare Advantage Plan. During this time, you can change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and you can enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. You also have the option to make a one-time switch to your Medicare Advantage plan.

Another opportunity to make changes to either a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug plan is moving out of the service area of your plan. If you move, you have 60 days to change your Medicare plan to one inside your new service area. Service areas vary between zip codes, counties, and states, so it is a good idea to check with your Medicare agent when you make any type of change to your residence address.

Many Special Enrollment periods are available. If you are unhappy with your plan at any time of year, it is best to reach out to your Medicare agent and see if changing plans may be an option for you.

Step 2: Assess your current coverage

Before making any changes to your Medicare coverage, it’s important to assess your current coverage. Make a list of the medications you take and the medical services you require. Look at your current plan’s formulary (list of covered drugs) to see if your medications are covered and if there are any restrictions. Make note of the costs associated with your current plan, including monthly premiums, copays, deductibles, and coinsurance.

Step 3: Research your options and compare plans

Once you have a clear understanding of your current coverage, it’s time to research your options. There are many places to find information on your plan options, though it is easiest to work with an independent Medicare advisor. An advisor can help you determine the plans you qualify for, narrow your options, and help you select the best plan to fit your needs at the current time. They will help you consider factors such as monthly premium costs, copays, deductibles, coinsurance, and the formularies of each plan. They can also make sure the plan you choose covers the doctors you see, the medications you take, and the medical services you require. You should never be charged for assistance from a Medicare or health insurance advisor.

Step 5: Enroll in a new Medicare plan

Once you have selected the plan that best fits your needs, it’s time to enroll. You can enroll through your Medicare advisor, online, by phone, or by mail. Make sure to enroll by the deadline of the enrollment period you wish to use to avoid any delays or denial of your application.

Step 6: Cancel your old plan

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medicare Prescription Drug plan, enrollment in another Medicare Advantage plan or Prescription Drug plan will automatically cancel your prior plan. You do not need to contact your plan to cancel. However, if you are leaving a Medicare Supplement plan, you must contact your old plan to let them know you are canceling coverage.  As a general rule, if you have a plan that you are paying through automatic payments, it is a good idea to call your carrier to ensure the automatic payments are stopped to avoid any extra payments or overdrafts.

In conclusion, changing your Medicare plan is a straightforward process, but it’s important to take the time to research your options and choose the plan that best meets your needs. Use the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), and the available Special Enrollment periods to change your Medicare coverage and ensure you have the coverage you need to stay healthy.


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