Medicare Advantage Plans are alternatives to Original Medicare provided by private insurers. They bundle Medicare Part A and Part B coverage along with extra benefits like prescription drugs into a single plan. However, joining a Medicare Advantage Plan is generally a year-long commitment limiting your ability to cancel anytime.
Understanding the enrollment rules for making Medicare Advantage coverage changes is key to ensuring you pick the right plan and can switch out if needed. While options to drop Advantage Plans exist, restrictions do apply.
When You First Enroll in Medicare Advantage
As you approach age 65 and initial Medicare eligibility, you first go through an Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) surrounding your birthday month. This 7-month window enables signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B along with choices like:
- Only Original Medicare
- Original Medicare + Part D Plan
- Original Medicare + Medigap
- Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)
During your IEP, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan and then cancel and switch back to Original Medicare penalty free if you change your mind. Your coverage will simply revert to Parts A/B.
But once your IEP ends, you can only make changes during designated periods going forward.
Following Your Initial Enrollment Period
After your IEP ends around age 65, you can only cancel a Medicare Advantage Plan during:
- Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7)
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31)
- Special Enrollment Periods, if eligible
Any changes made during these times take effect January 1 or March 1 respectively.
So while you are not permanently locked into an Advantage Plan, your ability to leave whenever you want is curtailed once your IEP lapses. Patience until the next applicable window is required.
Using Special Enrollment Periods
Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) create opportunities to adjust your Medicare Advantage Plan enrollment outside the usual calendar.
Qualifying life events enabling Advantage Plan changes include:
- Moving to a new address outside your plan’s service area
- Changing Medicaid eligibility
- Moving to or from a nursing home
- Gaining other coverage like from an employer
SEPs typically allow switching between Medicare Advantage Plans or canceling Advantage to go back to Original Medicare. Make sure you qualify for a specific SEP before attempting to make an off-season plan change.
Canceling Medicare Advantage Using Trial Rights
Some Medicare Advantage enrollees have additional cancellation options during a “trial period”:
- You can leave your Advantage Plan and switch back to Original Medicare anytime in the first 12 months of initially joining that Medicare Advantage Plan.
- This one-time trial right enables canceling your Advantage Plan outside usual enrollment windows.
- After using this one year trial period, normal enrollment rules apply for the future.
Check with your plan to see if you qualify for trial rights to cancel. This provides more first-year flexibility.
How Do You Cancel Medicare Advantage Coverage?
To cancel Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare Plan, contact your insurer to ask about terminating coverage. You may need to provide a termination date and/or fill out paperwork.
You should also contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE to notify them you are leaving Medicare Advantage to avoid confusion.
Once the cancellation takes effect, you’ll automatically revert to Original Medicare coverage. Make sure to have Part D drug plan lined up if your Advantage Plan included prescription benefits.
Can You Switch from Medicare Advantage to Medigap?
Dropping Medicare Advantage opens the door to joining a Medigap Plan to supplement Original Medicare. However:
- You cannot be enrolled in Medicare Advantage and Medigap simultaneously – it’s one or the other.
- You must first return to Original Medicare before applying for a Medigap Plan.
- When you initially enrolled in Medicare, you had guaranteed Medigap access without underwriting. After that, medical history can be considered resulting in higher costs or denials.
- Signing up for Medigap immediately after dropping Advantage qualifies you for another Medigap open enrollment period to avoid underwriting.
So you typically can switch Medicare or change Medicare to Medigap or Medicare Supplement when canceling another Medicare Advantage Plan but need to do so promptly to avoid complications.
Key Takeaways About Canceling Medicare Advantage
In summary, here are some key facts about your ability to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan:
- Cancellation is straightforward during your Initial Enrollment Period around age 65.
- Later on, you must wait for designated enrollment periods like those in the fall and winter.
- Special Enrollment Periods allow mid-year cancellations if you qualify through a major life change.
- One-time trial rights may enable new enrollees to cancel within the first year.
- Contact Medicare and your insurer to terminate your Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Proceed promptly if you want to enroll in Medigap to avoid underwriting.
While joining a Medicare Advantage Plan does limit your ability to cancel anytime, enrollment windows do regularly allow termination and switching coverage. Understanding these Medicare rules ensures you can make changes when needed.
We’re Here to Help
You do not have to spend hours reading articles on the internet to get answers to your Medicare questions. Give the licensed insurance agents at Glidden Group a Call at (208) 962-0077. You will get the answers you seek in a matter of minutes, with no pressure and no sales pitch. We are truly here to help.
Can I cancel my Medicare Advantage Plan and switch back to Original Medicare at any time?
Yes, you have the option to cancel your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare at any time. However, there are certain time frames and restrictions you need to be aware of. to switch to another plan, insurance plan, drop your Medicare Advantage Plan follow the setules
What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?
A Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C, is an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare and provide all the benefits of Parts A and Medicare Part B, as well as additional benefits like prescription drug coverage and wellness programs.
What is Original Medicare?
Original Medicare refers to the traditional Medicare program administered by the federal government. It consists of Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).
Can I switch Medicare Advantage Plans during the Medicare Open Enrollment period?
Yes, you can switch your Medicare Advantage Plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage.
How do I switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare?
To switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, you can simply contact the Medicare Advantage Plan you currently have or call 1-800-MEDICARE. They will guide you through the process.
Can I switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to a different Medicare Advantage Plan?
Yes, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. This allows you to explore different options and choose the plan that best meets your needs.
Can I switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to a Medicare Supplement Plan?
Yes, you have the option to switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to a Medicare Supplement Plan. However, it’s important to note that you may have to go through medical underwriting, which could affect your eligibility and coverage.
Can I switch from a Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare outside of the Medicare Open Enrollment period?
In most cases, you can only switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. However, there are certain special circumstances that may allow you to make changes to your coverage outside of this timeframe.
Can I switch back to my Medicare Advantage Plan after switching to Original Medicare Plan?
Yes, if you switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, you have the option to switch back to a Medicare Advantage Plan during the Medicare Open Enrollment period.
Can I enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan if I switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare?
Yes, if you switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to get coverage for your medications.