Medicare Advantage plans offer a popular substitute for Original Medicare (Parts A and B). These private plans often provide more comprehensive coverage than Original Medicare—such as dental, foot, and eye care benefits, coverage for a wider variety of medical supplies, or coverage for acupuncture and other forms of complementary medicine. If you’re interested in switching from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, you can do so during specific times of the year.
If I Have Medicare, How Can I Enroll in Medicare Advantage?
There are several time frames during which you can enroll in or switch to Medicare Advantage:
- During your Initial Enrollment Period: If you are newly eligible for Medicare because of your age or disability status, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
- During the Open Enrollment Period: During Medicare Open Enrollment, which extends from October 15 to December 7 each year, you can change Medicare plans, including switching to Medicare Advantage. You can also change or add a Part D prescription drug plan.
- During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: From January 1 to March 31, if you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to a different Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare.
Each Medicare Advantage plan offers different benefits, so it’s important to review the plans available in your area.
Consider your medical needs, which services you have used most frequently over the past several years, and whether those needs might change. Then weigh the benefits of various types of Medicare Advantage plans.
A Special Needs Plan might be a great option if you have a chronic illness and the right plan is available in your region, while HMO plans can be an affordable option if you like the doctors included in the plan’s network.
The official U.S. government website for Medicare can help you compare different plans and apply for the Medicare Advantage coverage that’s right for you.
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Interested in learning more about Medicare, Medigap, and Medicare Advantage plans? WebMD Connect to Care Advisors may be able to help.