Within seven months of your 65th birthday, you have the first opportunity to sign up for Medicare. You sign up for Original Medicare, but now you’ve decided that you want the extra coverage provided by Medicare Advantage. Can you change your Medicare plan?
In short, yes, you can change your Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage. In fact, you typically must already be enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) before enrolling in Medicare Advantage. Unfortunately, it’s a more complicated process than simply calling an insurance company and changing your care. There are two periods in which you can change your plan. One enrollment period occurs October 15th-December 7th and the other occurs January 1st-March 31st each year.
Be careful of who you have coverage with, however. If you have Medicare through a union or employer, Medicare Advantage may not be covered for you or your dependents. You may also be subject to a gap in coverage. You can also switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare during these open enrollment periods.
There are special instances where you may change your plan before one of the enrollment period this is called a Special Enrollment Period and occurs when you:
· Qualify for Medicare Extra Help for prescription drugs
· Are receiving institution care such as a long-term care hospital
Original Medicare vs Medicare Advantage
Which plan you choose depends on your Medicare needs. Original Medicare is a government program while Medicare advantage comes from private insurers. As a rule, Medicare Advantage plans are more expensive. These plans often offer more coverage, however.
Original Medicare covers Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance that covers preventative care, doctor visits and more). Medicare Advantage covers both Part A and Part B, but also covers prescription drug costs. Original Medicare may make it easier to choose your doctor while some Medicare Advantage plans only allow you to see doctors that are part of the plan’s network. Medicare Advantage can also cover vision and dental services.
Carefully consider your health insurance needs. People that take medication regularly may want to consider Medicare Advantage in order to save money on prescription drug costs. Before making any changes, consult with an insurance professional about your specific health situation. Your health is important and having the right Medicare plan can relieve the stress of getting the help you need.