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Toni Says: Changing your Medicare Advantage plan after Jan. 1

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period ends this year on Dec. 7, and those who have made changes to their Medicare Advantage Part C or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan should receive their new insurance card by Jan. 1
After March 31, you cannot disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan because you are in Medicare’s “lock in” from April 1 to Dec. 31.
After March 31, you cannot disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan because you are in Medicare’s “lock in” from April 1 to Dec. 31. [ Shutterstock ]
Published Nov. 22

Hello Toni:

I recently attended a local Medicare Advantage informational workshop and was going to join the plan, because my Medicare Supplement Plan F is costing me $260 a month. A friend introduced me to your articles explaining the various parts and plans of Medicare. Now I am having second thoughts.

My questions are regarding what happens if I change to an Advantage plan and find out after Jan. 1 that it is not working for me. Can I return to Original Medicare and apply for a new Medicare supplement? Will I be able to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan for prescriptions? Thanks.

-Theresa from Tulsa, Okla.

Toni King
Toni King [ Courtesy of Toni King ]

Hi there Theresa,

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period ends this year on Dec. 7, and those who have made changes to their Medicare Advantage Part C or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan should receive their new insurance card by January 1, 2023.

Here are the answers to your two questions, Theresa:

Yes, you can return to Original Medicare, but your window of time is small. For those having second thoughts after December 7, the time to change your Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D (MAPD) is from January 1 to March 31. Those three months are known as Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). Whether you are approved by a new Medicare Supplement is another issue because you will have to answer medical underwriting questions to qualify. Since you currently have a Medicare Supplement, you may consider not cancelling your Medicare Supplement until after March 31 to be sure you are satisfied with your new Medicare Advantage plan, especially if you have a health issue.

Yes. Enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan will disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage plan. During the MA OEP, you can disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare only by enrolling in a stand-alone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan. (Page 72 of my Medicare Survival Guide Advanced edition, explains how to do this.)

During the MA OEP, you can switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan to another MA Plan, or to Original Medicare with or without a Part D plan. You can ONLY take advantage of the MA OEP period if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan. You cannot use it to change a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.

After March 31, you cannot disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan because you are in Medicare’s “lock in” from April 1 to Dec. 31. You would have to wait until the next Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 - December 7) to change to a different MA plan or return to Original Medicare.

At the Toni Says office, we always advise Medicare clients to call all their doctors to see which Medicare Advantage plans the healthcare professional or medical facility accepts.

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Explore all your options

Theresa, you are spending about $260 on a Medicare Supplement and want something less expensive. There may be a less expensive option that has the same access to doctors who accept Original Medicare. You might consider shopping for a different, less expensive Medicare supplement such as Plan G or even Plan N.

• • •

Toni King is an author and columnist on Medicare and health insurance issues. She spent more than 27 years as a top sales leader in the field. For a Medicare checkup, email: info@tonisays.com or call 832-519-8664. You can now visit www.seniorresource.com/medicare-moments to listen to her Medicare Moments podcasts and get other information for boomers/seniors.

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