The fall annual election period for Medicare is over, but a new enrollment period is starting soon. This year, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period may give beneficiaries a much needed second chance to pick the right coverage for 2020.

If you’re unhappy with your plan selection, here’s what you need to know.

Problems with AEP

During the fall election period, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to review and change their coverage for the following year. If you’re enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you can select a new Medicare Advantage plan or switch to Original Medicare. If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you can switch to Medicare Advantage. You can also select a new prescription drug plan.

To keep out-of-pocket costs down in the following year, it’s important to compare plan options carefully. This year, however, there were a few snags. Right before the fall election period started, CMS released a new Plan Finder. Many users had difficulty using the updated system. According to NPR, some Medicare enrollees may have chosen the wrong plan because of these glitches.

You might have other reasons for ending up in a less-than-ideal plan. Perhaps you got busy during the fall election period and forget to review changes in your plan and new plans in your area. Maybe your situation changed shortly after the December 7 deadline.

Regardless of the cause, the good news is that you may have a second chance.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan for the current year, you can make a one-time enrollment change during this three-month period.

This means that you can either enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan or you can switch to Original Medicare. If you lose Medicare prescription drug coverage as a result, you can also enroll in a Medicare Part D plan.

However, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period does not provide as many options as the fall annual election period. If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, for example, you cannot use the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period to make changes to your coverage.

Other Enrollment Periods

Changes to Medicare enrollment are only allowed during certain times. Outside of the fall annual election period and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you may qualify for a special enrollment period.

For example, if you move to a new area, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. You may also qualify for a special enrollment period if you lose your previous coverage or if you are diagnosed with a chronic condition served by a Special Needs Plan in your area. Medicare provides a list of life events that can qualify you for a special enrollment period.

If you do not qualify for a special enrollment period, you will need to wait for the next open enrollment period to switch your Medicare plan.

Need guidance? Contact PTT Financial.