Changing Medicare Plans
Choices When Changing Plans
People may want to change their Medicare plans for several reasons, including cost, convenience, and coverage.
For example, people may choose to review their Medicare plans to find out the best cost and coverage options. People may also change Medicare plans after relocating, so they can access services outside their previous plan’s network. People may also want to increase or reduce their coverage as their health changes.
Two open enrollment periods per year offer Medicare users the flexibility to switch, move, or change Medicare plans. They may also decide to drop their plan.
Switching Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage
People can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or vice versa. Both Medicare and Medicare Advantage plan providers can arrange for someone to switch plans. Both processes involve speaking to a Medicare Advantage plan provider.
Individuals can switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage at any time during the first 3 months of their enrollment. After this time, they must wait for specific enrollment periods to make changes.
People with Medicare Advantage can switch to Original Medicare by calling either Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or their Medicare Advantage plan provider.
Moving Between or Changing Medicare Plans
Improved coverage may be a reason for people to consider moving from one Medicare plan to another one. People can change the providers of their Part D or Medicare Advantage plans, but only during set enrollment periods.
A person who wants to add Medicare Part D to their original Medicare coverage should contact a plan provider.
A person can enroll in Medicare Advantage during enrollment periods. They can complete an online application via the plan’s website or call the plan provider and either apply over the phone or ask for a paper enrollment form. People can also call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE. Of course, the best way to get personal assistance during all your interactions when choosing or changing a Medicare plan is to use a broker, like Christina Martel.
People keep their Medicare Part A and Part B benefits after moving to Medicare Advantage. However, enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage Plan with a drug plan automatically cancels a Medicare Part D drug plan.
Previous plans end when the new plan begins, without people needing to cancel their original plans. Plan providers send letters to their new members to advise them when the coverage begins.
Dropping Medicare Coverage
People who decide to drop Medicare coverage can do so in several ways, depending on their plan.
People with Medicare Advantage can drop their plan by speaking to their provider. Providers may dis-enroll members over the phone or send cancellation forms.
Unless special circumstances apply, people cannot cancel Part D plans outside the Open Enrollment Period.
People can also submit an online request to dis-enroll via the plan provider’s website or call the plan provider and request a dis-enrollment notice to sign and return.
Medicare Part B
People can opt out of Medicare Part B in two ways. They can ask for Form CMS-1763 from the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, then complete and return the form.
A person can also call the Social Security Administration or their local Social Security office to arrange an interview to explain why they want to drop out of Medicare Part B.
When Can a Person Change Plans?
People can change their Medicare plan during two different open enrollment periods. In addition, some Advantage plan members can change their plan during the first 3 months that they have Medicare.
The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period runs from October 15 to December 7.
During this period, people can:
- change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
- change, join, or cancel their Part D drug plan
- change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage
- change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is from January 1 to March 31. People who are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage can:
- change from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare
- join a Part D drug plan
- change from a Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
The Initial Enrollment Period is from April 1 to June 30. People who are new to Medicare and also enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan within their first 3 months can make changes. However, those changes must take place within the first 3 months of joining Medicare. During this time, people can change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare or change to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
Special Enrollment Periods are intended to cover times when a person may need to change their Medicare plan because of special circumstances, such as relocation or loss or change of coverage. The rules cover different circumstances, and a person can find more details here.
It usually costs nothing to switch Medicare plans. However, people who switch plans may face higher premiums. Some people may also face penalties for switching to certain plans after the Initial Enrollment Period.
People who opt out of Part B and then enroll later may pay 10% more on their premiums for every year they opt out.
A penalty exists for people who adopt Part D after the Initial Enrollment Period without prior drug coverage. The penalty is 1% of the national base beneficiary premium. In 2020, this amount is $32.74. Medicare multiples that amount by the number of months without coverage.