Are you unhappy with your current Medicare coverage? Or perhaps your preferred doctor is moving to a new practice, and you want to ensure you can still operate under his care? The good news is that if you are unhappy with your coverage or need to switch providers to stay in network with your preferred specialist, you are not just stuck with the Medicare plan you pick from now until eternity. You have options.

Each year, you get the option to review your options and switch to Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or switch your Part D plan if you’re unhappy with your current choice.

But, though you do have the freedom to switch, you cannot just switch at any time on a whim. There are specific enrollment period dates during the year when you can make changes. Here’s a brief breakdown of your enrollment options.

Initial Enrollment Period

You are initially eligible to sign up for a Medicare plan for a total of 7 months surrounding your 65th birthday. The initial enrollment period begins 3 months before the month of your 65th birthday and lasts through the 3 months after your birthday month. If you do not enroll at this time, you are still eligible to enroll during the next Medicare open enrollment period.

Fall Open Enrollment

Every year there is an annual election period that runs from October 15 through December 7. It is during this time that you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice versa. You can also choose to switch your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage plan. This is the only time during the year you are eligible to make changes to your Original Medicare plan unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. These changes are for the following year and will take effect beginning January 1st.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, then you have one more opportunity to make limited changes during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period that runs from Jan 1 through March 31. Any changes made during this period will take effect on the 1st of the following month. Unlike during Fall open enrollment, this enrollment period is only for those wishing to make changes to their Medicare Advantage plans, though you are eligible to switch to Original Medicare during this time.

Special Enrollment Periods (SEPS)

Outside of these yearly enrollment periods, if your circumstances change and you need to make changes, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. This period is usually triggered by some change in your life, such as moving outside your plan’s service area, moving into a nursing or long-term care facility, or if you become eligible for new or different coverage. To take advantage of a special enrollment period, you must speak with a representative.

Assistance Changing Your Plan

Do you need assistance enrolling in Medicare Advantage during open enrollment period, switching to Original Medicare, or changing your prescription drug plan? Our team at Patriot Insurance Brokers can help. We specialize in understanding the differences in your Medicare options and can answer your questions as well as assist with enrollment.

Call us today with your questions regarding changing your Medicare plan.