23.6 C
New York
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

You can switch your Medicare Advantage Plan if you want to. Here’s what to consider before you lock in your choice

  • You can switch or ditch your Advantage Plan through March 31.
  • You can make a change only once during the current window.
  • Here are some things to watch for.

Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez | iStock | Getty Images

You might have heard that if your 2021 Medicare Advantage Plan isn't a good fit, you can do something about it.

During a window of opportunity that opened Jan. 1 and closes March 31, Advantage enrollees can drop their plan and return to basic Medicare (Part A hospital coverage and Part B outpatient care) or switch to another Advantage Plan. If the latter is your preference, there are a few things to watch for before you finalize your choice, experts say.

"Be aware that you are now locked into that plan for the rest of the year unless you [qualify] for a special election period," said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits.

"Considering the lock-in period, due diligence is required," Roberts said. 

More from Personal Finance:
Here’s how you may be able to cut some Medicare costs
Avoid costly mistakes when rolling over 401(k) to an IRA
What to tell your adult kids when planning your estate

Roughly 63 million individuals are enrolled in Medicare, the majority of whom are age 65 or older, according to government data. The remainder are younger with disabilities or individuals with end-stage renal disease.

About 40% (25.4 million) get their benefits delivered via Advantage Plans, which are offered by private insurance companies and typically include Part D prescription drug coverage. The remainder stick with basic Medicare and may pair it with a stand-alone Part D plan and a Medicare supplemental policy (aka Medigap), both of which are also offered by private insurers.

While Medicare's fall annual enrollment is for changing your coverage if you want to, some beneficiaries only discover afterward that the Advantage Plan they picked is not ideal.

"The most common reason people change is that they joined a plan during the [fall enrollment window] without realizing that one of their doctors is not in the network or one of their medications is not covered on the formulary," Roberts said.

Related Articles

Latest Articles