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You can join, switch, or drop a Medicare health plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) with or without drug coverage during these times:
- Initial Enrollment Period. When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join a plan.
- Open Enrollment Period. From October 15 – December 7 each year, you can join, switch, or drop a plan. Your coverage will begin on January 1 (as long as the plan gets your request by December 7).
- Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. From January 1 – March 31 each year, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to Original Medicare (and join a separate Medicare drug plan) once during this time.
Medicare Advantage Plans are often referred to as Part C and are offered by Medicare-approved private companies that must follow rules set by Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include drug coverage (Part D).
In many cases, you will need to use health care providers who participate in the plan’s network and service area for the lowest costs.
Medicare Advantage plans are NOT standardized, which means each insurance companies can offer its own set of benefits. However, insurers can not offer less benefits than the original A and B of Medicare.
Therefore, some companies may offer out-of-network coverage and others may not. Some may have lower copayments for specific services and others may offer additional benefits, such as dental.
As a licensed agent, I certify annually to understand these differences. My knowledge of this industry can be the key to matching your needs to the right plan.
There are Pro’s and Con’s to every plan. When purchasing a Medicare Advantage Plan, please consider the following
Medicare Advantage plans are more restricted in terms of their provider networks. If you go out of network, your plan may not cover your medical costs, or your costs may not apply to your out of pocket maximum.
If you decide at a future date to join a Medicare Supplement plan, you could be denied coverage.
Each year the insurance company has the right to change benefits and premiums. However, you can to switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan with a different company, for the following year.