Changing Medicare Advantage
Moving into and out of Medicare Advantage plans are not like changing other types of insurance. Let’s look at the various ways a person changes Medicare Advantage plans when they are not in their open enrollment period.
Moving from one advantage plan to another:
Unless there are special circumstances, a person currently in an advantage plan is only able to make a change during the Annual Election Period. Currently, that period is only October 15 – December 7 of each year for an effective date of January 1. This is an important consideration since it means that if you choose the wrong insurance and you do not like your new plan, you usually are not able to move back until the next year’s annual election period. The other consideration is: Advantage plans change every year. So when you are considering different plans, make sure you are looking at the benefits and costs associated with the plan year you are enrolling into, not the plan’s current year costs.
Moving from a Medicare Supplement to an advantage plan:
Moving out of a Medicare Supplement to an advantage plan is quite simple. As long as you apply during the annual election period, you are able to move with the only question being asked is “do you currently have end stage renal disease?” However, Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans do not cancel automatically. You or the enrolling agent will need to make sure your supplement is canceled at the proper time, usually January 1. As a reminder, Medicare Advantage plans are typically networked, meaning your access to doctors could change compared to your experiences with a Medicare Supplement.
Leaving the area:
Medicare Advantage plans, unlike Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, which you can take with you, are registered by the county in which you live. If you change your residence within the year, you may be dropped from your Medicare Advantage plan. You will have one 63-day window from the time you either move or are informed you are dropped from your coverage to find new coverage. In your new area, you will have an opportunity to find a new Medicare Advantage plan. When you are in a new area, it is more crucial than ever you seek out professional advice on your available options as new considerations will need to be addressed, such as access to new doctors within the plan in an area convenient to you and cost differences between your old plans and new ones, which, depending on where you move to and where you are from, could be significant.