How to Disenroll or Switch Medicare Plans for 2020 Coverage
The period formerly known as the Medicare Disenrollment Period (MADP) is now referred to as the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which lasts from January 1 to March 31 each year.
If you want to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for 2020 coverage, you may be able to do so during the 2019 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).
The 2019 Medicare AEP for 2020 coverage – also called the Fall 2019 Medicare Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans – lasts from October 15 to December 7.
Neither of these enrollment periods affect Medicare Supplement (Medigap) enrollment. We’ll explain more about that at the end of this article.
What Is the Fall Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?
During the Medicare Annual Election Period (Fall Open Enrollment Period), Medicare beneficiaries can do the following:
Join a Medicare Advantage plan
Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B)
Disenroll from a Medicare Part D plan
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
Switch from one Part D plan to another
Any switching, joining or disenrollment actions that you take during the 2019 Medicare AEP will go into effect on January 1, 2020.
What Was the Former Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period?
The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period was – before 2019 – a time when Medicare Advantage plan members could disenroll from their plan and revert back to Original Medicare.
This disenrollment period was done away with. Starting in 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (not to be confused with Medicare AEP, which is outlined above).
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period lasts from January 1 to March 31. During this time, Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries can:
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, even if they are provided by different insurance carriers
Disenroll from their Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare
If you choose to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan during this period and return to Original Medicare, you can also enroll in a standalone Part D prescription drug plan.
What Are My Other Medicare Enrollment Options?
The fall Medicare Annual Election Period can be an important time for beneficiaries of Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare Part D plans.
Depending on your situation, you may be able to make changes to your Medicare coverage during other enrollment periods, such as:
Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Your Medicare IEP lasts for seven months, and it begins three months before you turn 65 years old, includes the month of your birthday and continues for three more months.
During this time, you may enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. You may also be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan. You only get one Initial Enrollment Period, so once it ends, it’s gone for good.
Medicare Special Enrollment Period (SEP)
If you experience a qualifying circumstance, you may be able to make Medicare coverage changes during a Special Enrollment Period.
A Medicare SEP can be granted at any time throughout the year, depending on the situation. However, you must experience a qualifying life event such as moving to a new Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan service area in order to be eligible for one.
During a Special Enrollment Period, you may be able to switch to a new Medicare Advantage plan, switch to a new Part D plan or disenroll from either type of coverage and revert back to Original Medicare.
A licensed insurance agent can help you determine if you qualify for enrollment or disenrollment during a Medicare enrollment period.
When Is My Medigap Open Enrollment Period?
Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans are sold by private insurance companies and help cover some of the out-of-pocket costs the Original Medicare doesn’t pay for. In this way, a Medigap plan can help fill the “gaps” left by Original Medicare.
The best time to apply for a Medigap plan is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which is different from any of the enrollment periods listed above.
Your Medigap OEP lasts for six months.
Your Medigap OEP begins as soon as you are at least 65 years old and enrolled in Medicare Part B.
During your Medigap OEP, insurance companies who sell Medicare Supplement plans can’t charge you more for a plan or deny you coverage based on your health.
If you apply for a Medigap plan outside of your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, you may be subject to medical underwriting. This means that an insurance company could charge you higher premiums or deny you coverage altogether based on your health.
There are 10 standardized Medigap plans available in most states. A Medigap plan can help pay for Medicare deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and more, depending on the type of plan you have.
You can use the chart below to compare 2019 Medicare Supplement plans and the benefits that they offer.
Find Medicare Supplement Plans in Your Area
Medicare enrollment can be confusing. A licensed insurance agent can help.
Call to speak with a licensed agent to learn more about your eligibility, and get help comparing Medigap plans that are available where you live.
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Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for MedicareSupplement.com. He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.