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When Can I Change Medicare Advantage Plans?

Page Reviewed / Updated - August 12, 2020

Seniors who are in a Medicare Advantage plan are allowed to switch to a new plan at certain times throughout the year. These include the fall open enrollment period and the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period. Seniors who experience certain life events may qualify for a special enrollment period, which lets them make changes outside of the two annual open enrollment periods.

The costs, coverage or service area of Medicare Advantage plans can change every year, and seniors are informed of these changes with a "Plan Annual Notice of Change." After reviewing this notice, some seniors may find that their current plan will no longer meet their needs and they need to make a change.

Fall Open Enrollment Period

The fall open enrollment period takes place between October 15 and December 7 every year. During this period, seniors can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. They can also move from a Medicare Advantage plan that has drug coverage to one that doesn't, and vice versa. During this enrollment period, seniors who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan are also allowed to switch back to Original Medicare.

Changes that seniors make during this period will take effect on January 1 of the following year, as long as the plan received the request by the last day of the enrollment period.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The annual Medicare Advantage open enrollment period takes place between January 1 and March 31. This period provides another opportunity for seniors to move from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. Seniors who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can switch to another plan with or without drug coverage. Switching to Original Medicare is also possible.

When seniors make changes during this period, their new coverage will start on the first day of the month after the plan receives the request.

Special Enrollment Periods

Seniors who experience certain life events can switch Medicare Advantage plans outside of the two open enrollment periods. Some of the life events that may trigger a special enrollment period include:

  • Moving out of the current plan's service area
  • Moving to an address within the current plan's service area where new plan options are available
  • Moving into or out of a skilled nursing facility or other institution, or currently living in one
  • Medicare taking an official action against the current plan
  • Medicare ending the current plan's contract
  • Becoming ineligible for Medicaid