Can I Change Medicare Advantage Plans in January?

Are you considering a change in your Medicare Advantage plan but unsure if January is the right time? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

“Can I change Medicare Advantage plans in January?” is a common question, and this blog post will guide you through the process of changing Medicare Advantage plans in January, understanding the various enrollment periods, and ensuring you make an informed decision that meets your healthcare needs.

We’ll discuss the eligibility criteria, options available during Open Enrollment, and the importance of comparing plans before switching. Special Enrollment Periods and their triggers will also be covered, along with important factors to consider when preparing for the switch. So, let’s get started!


Key Takeaways



  • Carefully assess healthcare coverage needs when comparing plans, check drug formularies, understand out-of-network costs, and prepare for the transition process by gathering documentation and informing providers.

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Understanding January's Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

January’s Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period offers a valuable opportunity for beneficiaries to make changes to their plans.

This period allows you to switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, or even change to a different Medicare Advantage plan altogether.

The Medicare open enrollment period, also known as the annual election period, runs from October 15 to December 7. This is the window when you can change your health and drug plans for the following year.


Understanding January's Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

During this time, you can:



Being aware of these timeframes and optimizing the initial enrollment period and open enrollment period for your benefit is key to aligning your healthcare coverage with your needs.


Eligibility for Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period in January is designed for those already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan by January 1 renders you eligible for the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, operational from January 1 to March 31. During this time, you can switch Medicare Advantage plans or return to traditional Medicare.


How often can you change medicare plans



However, there are two exceptions to eligibility for the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment. The first is if you qualify for Extra Help, a federal program that assists with most costs.

The second exception is that you cannot select an MA MSA plan during the Open Enrollment Period, but you can still enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan.


Options Available During Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment offers a range of choices, allowing you to switch plans, add or drop Part D coverage, such as a Medicare prescription drug plan, or revert to Original Medicare.

Switching Medicare Advantage plans during Open Enrollment requires contacting 800-MEDICARE or your plan provider to cancel your current plan, comparing different plans to find the one best suited for you, and enrolling in the new plan using the available enrollment options.

You can also add, switch, or drop your Medicare drug coverage, including a Medicare prescription drug plan, during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment. Any changes you make will be effective as of January 1st.


How to Make Changes During Open Enrollment

Whether you want to change your Medicare health plan or your prescription drug coverage plan, it’s crucial to understand the steps involved in making changes during Open Enrollment. To make these changes, you can either contact your plan provider or use the Medicare Plan Finder tool.

The tool aids in comparing different plans, comprehending their benefits, and selecting the most suitable plan for your healthcare requirements. Remember, you can only make alterations to your current Medicare Advantage plan during designated periods.

Special Enrollment Periods: Qualifying for a Plan Change Outside of Open Enrollment

Sometimes, life events or circumstances may prompt you to change your Medicare Advantage plan outside of the Open Enrollment period.

In such cases, Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs) come to the rescue. These periods allow you to make changes to your plan due to specific life events or situations, ensuring you have continuous healthcare coverage.

The subsequent sections elucidate the events that initiate an SEP, and the associated rules and timeframes.


Events Triggering a SEP


When can i change my medicare plan for 2023



Special Enrollment Periods are initiated by events such as relocation, loss of coverage, or changes in healthcare providers.

For instance, if you move to a new area, you may become eligible to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan outside the usual enrollment periods.

Similarly, if you lose your current health coverage, such as employer-sponsored insurance or Medicaid, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to change your Medicare Advantage plan.

Knowing the circumstances that initiate a SEP assists in making timely alterations to your healthcare coverage, thereby avoiding possible coverage gaps or lapses.



Understanding SEP Rules and Timeframes

The rules and timeframes for Special Enrollment Periods vary based on the qualifying event. Each situation has specific requirements and documentation that may be necessary to initiate the SEP.

Ensuring that the necessary information is submitted within the specified timeframe will facilitate a successful SEP enrollment process.

To make alterations during a SEP, you should contact your plan provider or utilize the Medicare Plan Finder tool. This tool helps you compare various plans and choose the one that best fits your healthcare needs.

Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans Before Switching

Before transitioning to a new Medicare Advantage plan, it’s necessary to:


  1. Compare your options and confirm that the new plan satisfies your healthcare requirements.
  2. Assess your health coverage needs.
  3. Check prescription drug coverage.
  4. Consider provider networks when comparing plans.


Subsequent sections will examine these factors in more detail and guide you on making a well-considered decision when switching Medicare Advantage plans.


Assessing Your Health Coverage Needs

When evaluating your healthcare coverage needs, consider factors such as:


  • Premiums
  • Provider networks
  • Drug formularies
  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Plan benefits
  • Health savings account eligibility
  • Your personal health needs


Think about the type of coverage you need, the cost of the plan, and the provider network.


Can you change medicare plans after open enrollment



Also, consider your health condition and any specialized care you may require. Considering your specific healthcare requirements enables you to select a plan that suits your situation optimally within the plan’s service area.


Checking Prescription Drug Coverage

Confirming that your medications are included in your new plan’s formulary is imperative. A formulary is a list of prescription drugs covered by a Medicare Advantage Plan.

To determine if your medication is included in the formulary, you can visit your plan’s website or contact their customer service.

If your medication is not included in the new plan’s formulary, you may request a formulary exception or explore other alternatives, such as trying the preferred medication first and requesting coverage for your medication if it proves ineffective or causes harm.


Network Considerations

Selecting a plan encompassing your preferred doctors and hospitals within its network is of utmost importance.

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, consider the Medicare coverage, network coverage, and accessibility, ensuring that your preferred healthcare providers, hospitals, and specialists are included in the plan’s network.


Can i change medicare advantage plans anytime during the year



If your preferred physician is not in your new plan’s network, you may need to find a different doctor within the network or incur out-of-network costs if you continue seeing your preferred physician.

It’s important to consult with your plan to understand the specific coverage and costs associated with out-of-network care.

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Preparing for the Switch: What You Need to Know

Once the decision to switch Medicare Advantage plans has been made, preparing for the transition is necessary. This involves gathering the required documentation, comprehending the transition process, and informing your healthcare providers about your new plan.

Subsequent sections will cover the documentation and information required, the process of transitioning to new coverage, and the relevance of informing your providers about your new plan.


Documentation and Information Required

When enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll need to have the following information ready:


  • Medicare card
  • Social Security number
  • Current plan information
  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Medicare number


Other personal information may also be required.

Having precise information and documentation ready can assist in ensuring an efficient enrollment process and a smooth transition to your new plan.


Transitioning to New Coverage

Transitioning to a new Medicare Advantage plan might include waiting periods or coverage gaps.

Managing these possible gaps is necessary and involves reviewing your current plan, examining new plan options, coordinating with healthcare providers, using transitional coverage, and planning for prescription medications in advance.


When can i change my medicare advantage plan



By taking these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition to your new plan and maintain continuous healthcare coverage.


Communicating with Providers About Your New Plan

Informing your healthcare providers about your new plan is essential for a smooth transition. Provide them with the following information:


  • The name and contact information of your new plan
  • Your new plan’s member ID number
  • The effective date of your new plan
  • Any changes in coverage or benefits compared to your previous plan


Effective communication with your providers will help ensure that your healthcare needs are met and enable you to continue receiving the care you require under your new plan.

Impact of Changing Plans on Existing Medigap Policies

Changing Medicare Advantage plans may affect your existing Medigap policies. Before making a change, consider the impact on your Medigap policy, as you may encounter obstacles, such as being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or experiencing changes in coverage and costs.

Comprehending the potential impacts of plan switching on your existing Medigap policy can assist you in making a well-informed decision and avert unforeseen outcomes.


In conclusion, changing Medicare Advantage plans in January is possible and can be beneficial if your current plan no longer meets your healthcare needs.

Understanding the Open Enrollment Period, Special Enrollment Periods, and the process of comparing and switching plans will empower you to make an informed decision.

Remember to assess your health coverage needs, check prescription drug coverage, consider network accessibility, and communicate with your healthcare providers about your new plan.

With careful planning and preparation, you can successfully transition to a new Medicare Advantage plan that better suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions



Is it too late to change Medicare Advantage plans?

It is not too late to change Medicare Advantage plans if you enrolled within the past three months. Make sure to act soon if you’d like to switch!


→  What is the cut-off date to change Medicare plans?

Medicare’s Annual Election/Open Enrollment Period takes place from October 15 through December 7 each year, allowing individuals enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to make a one-time election to change plans or switch to Original Medicare.

During this period, it is also possible to add, drop, or change Medicare drug coverage.


How do I switch to another Medicare Advantage plan?

During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (January 1 – March 31), you can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or disenroll and return to Original Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227).

Ensure that disenrollment and enrollment requests are submitted at the same time to avoid errors.


→  What factors should I consider when comparing Medicare Advantage plans?

When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it is important to consider your individual healthcare needs, coverage for prescription drugs, access to providers through a plan’s network, and any other benefits the plan may offer.


→  How can I find out if my preferred doctors and hospitals are in a plan’s network?

To find out if your preferred doctors and hospitals are part of a plan’s network, check the plan’s website or contact customer service.

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.