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How Many Times a Year Can I Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan?

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Medicare Advantage enrollment is limited to certain times of the year. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or considering switching to Medicare Advantage, here’s what you need to know about Medicare Advantage enrollment periods.

When is the Medicare Advantage enrollment period?

There are now three main Medicare Advantage enrollment periods, although what you can do during each period may be slightly different.

  • Medicare Initial Enrollment Period
    When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan instead of Original Medicare. This period begins three months before the month in which you qualify for Medicare, includes your birthday month, and extends for an additional three months.
  • Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
    The new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) takes place every year between January 1 and March 31. If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to another plan with or without Part D prescription drug coverage during this time. You can also switch from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare. However, you cannot switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage during the new Medicare Advantage enrollment period.
  • Medicare Fall Open Enrollment
    Fall open enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7 each year. During this time, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa, and you can add, drop, or change your Part D coverage for prescription drugs.

You may also qualify for special Medicare Advantage enrollment periods in certain situations, such as if you move outside your plan’s service area or you become eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. You might also get a Medicare Advantage Special Enrollment Period if your plan ends its relationship with Medicare, or moves out of your area.

Medicare Advantage enrollment: what if I have a pre-existing condition?

In most cases, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan regardless of health status or pre-existing conditions. If you have end-stage renal disease, you may not be eligible for most Medicare Advantage plans. You may be able to sign up for a special type of Medicare Advantage plan called a Special Needs Plan.

You can generally switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another regardless of your health history, as long as you do so during either the fall open enrollment period or the new Medicare Advantage enrollment period.

Each Medicare Advantage plan sets its own fees and cost-sharing amounts, so you should compare the costs of any plans you are interested in.

It’s easy to compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area. Start now by entering your zip code on this page.

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