New for 2019, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) will replace the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, expanding the options and timeline in which beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare Advantage plan.

What Could I Do Before?

Under the old Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, seniors with Medicare Advantage plans were able to make a one-time change back to Original Medicare. If you made a change, you’d also have until February 14 to find a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan. (Depending on your state and health, you may also be able to purchase a Medicare Supplement at any point following your disenrollment).

Under the old Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, seniors with Medicare Advantage plans were able to make a one-time change back to Original Medicare.

However, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could not switch to another Part C plan inside of the old period.

The New Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

With the new period, enrollees will now be able to move from one Medicare Advantage plan to another without receiving a penalty, even if you just signed up for a Medicare plan during the previous Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). Additionally, just as before, you can return to Original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll a stand-alone Medicare Part D drug plan (and purchase a Med Supp).

With the new period, enrollees will now be able to move from one Medicare Advantage plan to another without receiving a penalty.

The new MA OEP will run from January 1 to March 31, giving enrollees twice as long to contemplate their decision and evaluate how their current plan is working for them before making a change.

Why Bother Changing?

If you like your Medicare plan, we recommend sticking with it, but there are a few reasons why you’d want to look at other Medicare plans during the OEP.

There are a few reasons why you’d want to look at other Medicare plans during the OEP.

First, and perhaps most importantly, your medical needs may change, which may require a shift in your coverage.

Second, perhaps you overlooked the Annual Notice of Change you received before the AEP and missed that your current plan’s networks, premiums, or benefits changed. If you no longer have in-network access to your doctor, but would through another plan, you can use the MA OEP to switch before your costs add up.

Finally, studies show that seniors who switch Medicare plans are more likely to save money on their plans. While most make the change during the AEP, the new MA OEP provides beneficiaries a sort of “buyer’s remorse” solution.

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If you’re thinking about changing your Medicare Advantage plan, talk to your licensed sales agent. You can also explore plans available in your area and get in touch with an agent using the Medicareful Plan Finder.