If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) is when you can enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare. However, you can only make 1 change within the period and other rules apply as well.

Let’s explore the details of the MA OEP and how it’s different from Medicare’s Fall Open Enrollment, or the Annual Election Period (AEP).

How the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period works

The MA OEP is one opportunity throughout the year to change your Medicare Advantage plan. Here are some important facts:

  • Enrollment dates: Jan. 1 – March 31
  • Who can participate: People already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as of January 1
  • What changes you can make:
    • Switch to another Medicare Advantage plan, with or without drug coverage
    • Switch back to Original Medicare, and if needed, add a Medicare Part D plan
  • How many changes allowed per period: 1
  • When changes take effect: The first of the following month following receipt of the enrollment request

Making changes during MA OEP

Can you switch Medicare Advantage plans at any time?

Medicare Advantage plans can be changed during MA OEP, Special Enrollment Periods (SEP), the Initial Enrollment Period and the fall OEP/AEP.

Can you change your Medicare Advantage plan after Medicare Advantage open enrollment?

You can change your plan or enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan during a Special Enrollment Period. These can happen due to a qualifying life event, such as losing your insurance due to moving to a new location outside your plan’s coverage area. You can learn more about SEPs and whether you may qualify for one.

When can you disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan?

You can disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan during the AEP, OEP or during an SEP if you have a qualifying life event.

What happens if you need to change plans during a period you cannot change plans?

If you need to change plans outside of the standard enrollment periods, you may be able to do so if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Qualifying life events for these SEPs include moving outside of your plan’s coverage area or if your plan is not renewing its contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Depending on the qualifying life event, you may have anywhere between 30 – 60 days to change your plan.

How the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is different from the Medicare Annual Election Period

The AEP is different in several ways. First, it occurs in the fall, between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, for coverage beginning Jan. 1. Second, anyone eligible for Medicare can participate. Third, you can make as many changes to your plan and coverage as you wish before Dec. 7.

Choose what’s best for you

The MA OEP is an opportunity to change your coverage and choose the right plan for you. If you’re considering switching back to Original Medicare, check out this helpful side-by-side comparison of Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

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