Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Leave a Medicare Advantage Plan

When and How You May Leave a Medicare Advantage Plan

Question:  I didn’t realize my choice of hospitals and doctors would be so limited when I enrolled in my Medicare Advantage plan. I don’t like this plan. How do I change plans?

Answer: There is a special enrollment period for people who have enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time after becoming eligible (age 65 for most people). It is known as the 12 month “free look” and during the first 12 months of having enrolled in your first Medicare Advantage plan you may leave the plan and return to original Medicare at any time during those first 12 months. Leaving the Medicare Advantage plan under these circumstances also puts you in a guarantee issue period for Medicare Supplements and a special enrollment for a Part D prescription plan.

In general you may only make changes in your Medicare Advantage Plan at certain designated times throughout the calendar year. October 15 to December 7 is the annual open enrollment period for 2011. You also have a chance to leave a Medicare Advantage Plan and return to original Medicare between January 1 and February 14 each year. There are other special enrollment periods for certain situations. All of this is handled through Medicare directly. Medicare has created a tip sheet for understanding Medicare enrollment periods. Click “Ask a Question” and request “Medicare enrollment periods”- I will e-mail you the tip sheet.