Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans – When Can You Change Plans and Companies?

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Medicare insurance plans can be very complex and confusing. One of the most frequently confused aspects of this insurance are the enrollment periods and which plans have which enrollment periods. This article will clear up that confusion.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Insurance

This is the easiest to explain. First and foremost, there is NO annual period to make changes. Not a day goes by that I do not speak with someone who believes there is an annual period to make changes on Medicare Supplement plans; However, that is not the case. Supplements can be changed at any time of the year. There is, of course, the initial enrollment period when a person turns 65 or goes on Medicare Part B for the first time; However, after that initial period, there is no recurring period.

Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage plans' period for enrollment are more complex than Medigap plans. The three Medicare Advantage enrollment periods are listed below:

  1. ICEP – Initial Coverage Election Period. This is period when you first go on Medicare, in which you can "elect" a Medicare Advantage plan. This period is three months before you go on Medicare Part B and three months after you go on Medicare Part B (for a total of 6 months).
  2. AEP – This is the Annual Election Period. This is the one most people know about – the one you see the TV advertisements for. This occurs between November 15 and December 31 each year. You can make changes to your Advantage plan during this time.
  3. OEP – This is the Open Enrollment Period. This occurs from January 1 to March 31 each year. You can only make one change during this time period each year, and as a part of that change, you can neither add nor drop Part D coverage. In other words, if you have a plan that includes Part D now, you can not switch into a plan that does not include Part D during the OEP.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D has an period to enroll mirrors the Medicare Advantage AEP (Nov. 15-Dec. 31). Also, you can make changes to Part D during the OEP as long as you do not drop or add Part D coverage as part of those changes. If you have Part D as of Jan. 1, any change you make during OEP have to result in you having Part D as of April 1.