If you are currently interested in signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must understand how an enrollment period fully works. You have to sign up during limited and specified enrollment times to enroll in Medicare plans, Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicare Part D. These times depend on which benefit you are enrolling in. In this article, we’ll focus on the enrollment periods of a Medicare Advantage plan. Keep in mind that enrolling in a Medicare Advantage during these enrollment periods requires that you should currently be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you wish to learn more about the Medicare Advantage enrollment periods, it’s benefits, how to sign up, and the requirements you need, read on!
When Can I Sign Up For a Medicare Advantage Plan?
There are specific periods when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan (like a PPO or an HMO), Medicare prescription drug (Part D) coverage, or edit and makes changes to the coverage you already have. These times are as follows:
– During your initial enrollment period, when you’re becoming eligible for Medicare, either because you are turning 65 years old, or recently obtained Medicare because of a disability.
– During the Annual Enrollment Period, which occurs from October 15th – December 7th of each year.
– The Open Enrollment Period, which occurs January 1st – March 31st of each year.
– Or a Special Enrollment Period, which can occur at specific times depending on the reason for the enrollment period.
Below we will explain in detail how each of these enrollment periods works.
Dates for Proper Enrollment
The initial enrollment period for Medicare is when you can choose the type of plan you desire. This time is set up for you to enroll in the type of plan you select during your initial enrollment into Medicare. At this juncture, you can choose to go with any option that is available where you live. This choice can be a permanent decision, depending on what type of plan you want. The options available you can choose to add to your Medicare can be as follows:
– Staying with Original Medicare
– Staying with Original Medicare and adding a Medicare Part D drug plan
– Staying with Original Medicare and adding a Medicare Supplement plan
– Staying with Original Medicare and adding a Medicare Supplement Plan and a Medicare Part D drug plan or
– Enrolling into a Medicare Advantage plan
Medicare Advantage Initial Enrollment Period
In this section, we’re only going to explain how in your initial enrollment period, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. During this period, you can enter into a Medicare Advantage plan. The enrollment period begins the month of eligibility into Medicare, but keep in mind that in order to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you do have to be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. You’ll have three months before you’re eligible for Medicare to begin enrolling into a plan, the month of your eligibility, and three months after the month of eligibility to enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan. Depending on when you enter, it will determine the time your plan will begin. Anything after your initial enrollment period will follow the rules of other enrollment period options.
Here are the other enrollment options you can use to sign up for a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period
There is the Fall Open Enrollment, also referred to as the Annual Enrollment Period. This takes place from October 15th to December 7th every year. In this period, you can enroll in multiple plans, but the last one you choose will be the one that will stay as your plan. This means that if you found a plan, but then decided to change to a different plan, you can do that throughout the Annual Enrollment Period. Keeping this in mind, Medicare allows a person only to have one Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D plan at a time, so enrolling in a different plan will automatically terminate any prior applications. During the time frame, you can:
– Sign up in a Medicare Part D drug plan or change from one prescription drug plan to another.
– Enroll in or switch your Medicare Advantage plan
– Disenroll from the Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare
– Disenroll from your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you are currently enrolled in one.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Once you’ve enrolled in a plan during the open enrollment (Annual Enrollment Period), your coverage will kick in on the very first day of the year. After the annual election period, you’ll have one more chance to make any changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D coverage. This is through the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1st to March 31st of every year. If you’re currently enrolled within a Medicare Advantage plan, you will have a one-time shot to:
– Switch to another Medicare Advantage plan
– Drop your current Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare Parts A and B.
– Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (if you wish to return to Original Medicare).
Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period
If you plan to disenroll from a plan you are enrolled in, there is the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (January 1st to February 14th). In this period, you can disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan to return to a standard Original Medicare plan.
Medicare Advantage Special Enrollment Period
You’re also able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during specific special enrollment periods that may occur within the year. Particular circumstances can help you qualify for a special enrollment period outside of the regular enrollment periods, such as:
– You move
– You’re eligible for a Medicaid plan
– You’re eligible for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs
– You are getting care in an institution, like a nursing facility or long-term care hospital
– You wish to switch to a plan with a 5-star overall rating for quality.
Other circumstances may also qualify you for one of these special enrollment periods. Contact us at Healthcare American to find out how you might qualify. We are experts in Medicare and can help you understand how your unique situation might help you qualify outside of the standard enrollment times.
Keeping these enrollment periods in mind, you can see that there are limited timeframes that Medicare beneficiaries can use when enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. While these enrollment times are set in stone, there are ways of using special enrollment periods for individuals to enter into a Medicare Advantage plan, outside of the set timeframes. Not everyone will qualify for a particular enrollment period. We at Healthcare American can help you understand what is available for your individual situation and help you qualify and enroll in the right plan.
For more in-depth information about these enrollment periods or help enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, give Healthcare American a call today!
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