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Can You Change Medicare Plans After Open Enrollment?

health insurance document

What if a single decision ended up changing your entire life? 

That may sound dramatic, but it describes the reality for many people on Medicare. Once you are enrolled in a plan, you typically have that plan for an entire year. However, major events (including life-changing events) can happen during that time that alter the landscape and your needs. 

That brings us to the big question: is it possible to make changes to your plan after the open enrollment period is over? Keep reading to discover the answer! 

What is Original Medicare? 

The term Original Medicare refers to what we commonly call just plain Medicare. It’s a health insurance program sponsored by the federal government that is available to a certain group of people. Original Medicare is for those over the age of 65 and some people with certain disabilities.  

Original Medicare is a service that typically offers medical and nursing care and prescription drug coverage for a reduced cost. 

When Is Open Enrollment? 

The open enrollment plan for Medicare runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. During these months, you can switch to a new plan, drop a plan, or make other major changes. 

It’s important to understand the different dates related to this initial enrollment period. For example, December 7 is a very firm cutoff date. If you don’t get your changes in by that date, there is no guarantee the changes will go into effect at the beginning of the new year. 

If you are happy with your current plan, then this open enrollment period doesn’t matter as much. If you’re unhappy with your Medicare and want a change, though, it’s important to get your paperwork in to make sure the desired changes take effect by January. If you take care of everything before December 7, you can enjoy all the benefits of your new coverage the following year. 

How You Can Change Medicare Plans After Open Enrollment 

Outside of the open enrollment period, you normally can’t make any changes. However, if any of the special circumstances involved in the special enrollment period apply to you, then you may be able to make changes outside of the annual insurance selection period. 

In other special cases, beneficiaries may be able to make changes once per quarter. This typically applies to those who also get Medicaid assistance and those who need additional help paying for their plan. For those in these groups, it’s possible to change to a Part D plan or a new Medicare Advantage plan once per quarter. 

Beyond this, you are normally limited to the general enrollment period for making changes to your health insurance. Wondering if you qualify for the special enrollment period that allows you to make changes during other times of the year? Let’s take a closer look at what these qualifying life changes are, and how you can reference them, so you can take care of your needs with the right health coverage. 

person going over insurance plan with patient

What Is the Special Enrollment Period? 

The special enrollment period refers to a two-month period that opens up after you experience a qualifying life event. These events allow you to make changes and you may want to take this time to explore whether you want new coverage or need any supplement options. 

What are some examples of qualifying life events? One of the most common events is that you move outside of your current service area. Similarly, you may qualify for special enrollment if Medicare stops serving your area. 

In addition, you can make changes to your current policy (including your current Medicare Advantage Plan) if you have recently moved either into or out of an institution. In that case, though you’d probably prefer different life circumstances, it’s good to know you can still customize your health plan, especially once all your questions are answered. 

Sadly, another common occurrence that triggers the special enrollment plan is that you lose your creditable drug insurance and it’s not your fault. In that case, you get an opportunity to find alternative Medicare prescription drug coverage that you need. 

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to check out different planning possibilities, special enrollment is the best time to do this outside of the open enrollment period. This may allow you to discover a new kind of health coverage and drug plan that both fills in some of the current gaps and keeps both you and your spouse happy. 

What If You Have Questions About Special Enrollment? 

If you have questions about special enrollment, including whether your circumstances qualify and how to find the right plan on your own, you don’t have to work everything out by yourself. Instead, you can speak to both your insurance company and the Social Security Administration about potential changes. For example, you can ask whether you need to switch from, say, Medicare Part B to Part C. 

Keep in mind this is also the perfect time to switch to a new Medicare provider. If you aren’t satisfied with the quality of your current options or current customer service, now is the time to make the switch. 

What Is the Medicare Advantage Enrollment Period? 

The Medicare Advantage enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31 each year. During this time, you can make changes to your existing policy if (and only if) you are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage. 

During this special period, you can switch to an Advantage plan that is more to your liking. Qualifying users can also take this time to sign up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug policy. 

Not happy with your current Advantage plan? You can also use this enrollment period to drop your current coverage and switch back to Medicare whenever you want. 

Get the Best Healthcare Today! 

Now you know whether you can change Medicare plans after open enrollment, but do you know who can help you finally get the health insurance you need? 

Freeway Insurance is here to provide people just like you with the insurance coverage you need. We can quickly and easily provide you with an online quote or feel free to give us a call at (800) 777-5620. Finally, you can also visit us at an office near you

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