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New Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period for 2019


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Have you been thinking about signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, or changing from one plan to another? You may know that there are limited time periods when you can make these changes. Now there’s another opportunity for you to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, or switch plans.

Medicare Advantage plans: when can you sign up?

Traditionally, there have been several periods when you can typically sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan.

  • When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you get an Initial Enrollment Period. That’s when you can enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B, or when you’re automatically enrolled. During this period, you can decide to get your Part A and Part B benefits from a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Every year, there’s a Fall Open Enrollment Period, when you can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, or drop your plan and return to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Also called the Annual Election Period (AEP), it runs from October 15 – December 7. Learn about the Medicare Open Enrollment period and the other changes you can make at that time.
  • In certain cases, you might qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Generally this period is for those who lose coverage – for example, by moving out of the plan’s service area.

Medicare Advantage plans: the new Open Enrollment Period

Starting in 2019, there’s a new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP). It goes from January 1 through March 31 every year. It replaces the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (January 1 – February 14).

The Medicare Advantage OEP is somewhat more limited than the Fall Open Enrollment Period. During the Medicare Advantage OEP, you generally have a one-time opportunity to do any of the following. This may not be a complete list.

  • Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B
  • Sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, if you returned to Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans: why sign up for one?

The type of Medicare coverage you want is entirely up to you. Here are a few facts about Medicare Advantage plans to help you decide.

  • Most Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage.
  • Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits, such as fitness programs or gym memberships.
  • Some Medicare Advantage plans might save you money on your health-care expenses. Some plans have premiums as low as $0 per month.
  • Every Medicare Advantage plan has an annual out-of-pocket maximum spending limit. That means that after you spend a certain amount on approved medical costs during one calendar year, you don’t have to pay for covered medical services for the rest of that year. This limit can vary among plans, and from year to year.

With any type of Medicare Advantage plan, you still have to pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium – along with any premium the Medicare Advantage plan may charge.

Want to explore Medicare Advantage plans in your area? You can click Browse Plans on this page to start looking. You can also contact eHealth to talk to a licensed insurance agent.

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