By Teresa Heap
Individual Health Plan Solutions

Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Advantage plans sometimes find themselves stuck in a plan that they do not like. Although the plan’s Summary of Benefits covers the specifics of how the plan works, it’s all too easy for a beneficiary to misunderstand the rules or forget to check whether a certain doctor is in the network. 

Beginning in 2019, Medicare beneficiaries that are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan on January 1, can use this OEP period to make a one-time change between January 1 and March 31. 

You can change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. You can also leave a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (and a Part D drug plan). However, be careful. This period does NOT guarantee you a free pass into a Medicare supplement to go alongside your Original Medicare.

This Medicare OEP is not new. The ACA law signed in 2010 ended the Medicare OEP and replaced it with a Medicare Advantage Disenrollment period that ran January 1 to February 14. This period was different from the Medicare OEP in that it only allowed Medicare Advantage enrollees to go back to Original Medicare. It did not allow them to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. This is not to be confused with the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 every year.

Working with an insurance agent is free and will help you to avoid common errors.