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What Are the Medicare Advantage Enrollment and Disenrollment Periods?

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Did you know that you can’t sign up just anytime for a Medicare Advantage plan? Whether you want to sign up, switch plans, or disenroll from your plan, you usually have to stick to certain Medicare Advantage enrollment and disenrollment periods.

Medicare Advantage enrollment and other ways it’s different from Original Medicare

Medicare Advantage plans are different from Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, in some ways.

  • Original Medicare is the federal health insurance program for qualified people 65 years old or older, or who qualify by disability.
  • Medicare Advantage plans are available through private, Medicare-approved insurance companies. They contract with Medicare to provide your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits.
  • Medicare Advantage plans often include prescription drug coverage. Original Medicare includes only limited prescription drug coverage, such as when you’re treated with medications in a hospital or clinic. It doesn’t cover most medications you’d take at home.
  • Other benefits may be included in some Medicare Advantage plans. One example is routine dental care, which Original Medicare typically doesn’t cover.
  • Original Medicare has different sign-up periods.

Yet, when you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you’re still in the Medicare program and still have to pay your Part B premium. If the Medicare Advantage plan has a monthly premium, you have to pay that as well – but there is such a thing as a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage enrollment and disenrollment periods

It’s true that you have Medicare Advantage enrollment and disenrollment opportunities during certain times. But don’t worry – you might have more chances to sign up than you think. You can generally make other changes during these time period as well – such as switching Medicare Advantage plans or dropping your plan and returning to Original Medicare.

Did you…. If so, you can usually make certain changes – for example: …during this time period.
Just become eligible for Medicare? Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This seven-month period that surrounds the month you turn 65, for most people. Your IEP may be different if you qualify for Medicare before age 65.
Decide you wanted a Medicare Advantage plan after your Initial Enrollment Period passed?

Decide you wanted to change plans or drop your plan?

Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another

Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), also called Fall Open Enrollment. This happens from October 15 – December 7 every year.

The new (as of 2019) Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period for January 1- March 31. You can only use this time period once.

Find out about a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan? That’s a plan that Medicare has given a 5-star rating (the top possible rank). Enroll in a 5-star Medicare Advantage plan

Please note: you can only make this change once per 5-star Special Enrollment Period.

5-star Special Enrollment Period (December 8 to November 30 every year)
Lose your Medicare Advantage coverage because you moved out of the plan’s service area?

Just move into, or out of, a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital? (This also applies if you still live in one of these facilities.)

Learn that you’re eligible for an employer-based health plan?

Experience another change in your coverage?


Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan



Special Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage. This time period depends on your situation. You can ask the Medicare Advantage plan for details.

Please note:

  • The table above focuses on Medicare Advantage plans, but in many cases, you can make similar changes involving stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.
  • You need to be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify for Medicare Advantage. You must live within the plan’s service area.
  • You might not be eligible for most Medicare Advantage plans if you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD). A certain type of Medicare Advantage plan called a Special Needs Plan is tailored for those with ESRD.
  • You must continue to pay your monthly Medicare Part B premium, along with any premium the plan may charge.

Are you interested in comparing Medicare Advantage plans in your area? Just type your zip code in the box on this page to get started. You can also contact eHealth by phone to speak with a licensed eHealth insurance agent.

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