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What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)?


The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) is another enrollment period allowing people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (MAPD or MA) an opportunity to change Medicare Advantage plans - or drop their Medicare Advantage plan, return to original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, and join a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP).

The MA OEP:
  • Begins on January 1st and continue through March 31st,

  • Is only available to people already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan,

  • Provides one additional chance to change your Medicare Advantage plan enrollment outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period (October 15th through December 7th),

  • Replaces the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, and

  • May not be available for all Medicare Advantage plans in your area (see more below).

In this FAQ
» Why would I use the MA OEP to change my Medicare Advantage plan enrollment?
» Can I change my Medicare Advantage plan enrollment to any MA plan in my Service Area during the MA-OEP?
» A little background on the MA OEP
» Reminder about the timing of your enrollment or dis-enrollment during the MA OEP and premium deductions
» The Medicare Advantage Plan Trial Right

Why would I use the MA OEP to change my Medicare Advantage plan enrollment?

You may wish to change Medicare Advantage plan coverage if:
  • You wrongly enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that does not have drug coverage (MA) and you wanted to enroll in an MA with drug coverage (MAPD).

  • You find that another Medicare Advantage plan in your area provides more affordable overall coverage - and maybe has a lower maximum out-of-pocket limit (MOOP) for your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B costs.

  • A Special Needs Medicare Advantage Plan (SNP) is available in your area and provides benefits tailored specifically to your health needs, chronic condition, Long Term Care (LTC) residence, or financial status.

  • Your healthcare providers (e.g., doctor or specialist) have moved to another healthcare network and they are no longer available (or out-of-network) through your chosen Medicare Advantage plan.

  • Your MA or MAPD no longer provides SilverSneakers (tm) or other fitness program coverage and you wish to a change to a plan that includes this benefit.

  • You found another Medicare Advantage plan in your area with better supplemental benefits such as vision and dental coverage.

  • Your Medicare Advantage (MAPD) plan no longer includes your neighborhood pharmacy within the plan's pharmacy network - or your chosen pharmacy is no longer a preferred network pharmacy and you are paying a higher cost for your formulary medications because your pharmacy is a standard network pharmacy.

  • Your Medicare Advantage (MAPD) plan's drug formulary no longer covers all of your medications, and even though you can ask your MAPD for a formulary exception, you would rather change to another Medicare Advantage plan in your area that provides coverage for all of your prescription drugs.

Can I change my Medicare Advantage plan enrollment to any MA plan in my Service Area during the MA-OEP?

Not necessarily.  Each Medicare Advantage plan has the option of closing enrollment during the MA OEP and is not required to allow new plan members to enroll into the plan during the MA OEP. 

As noted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),

"Unlike the mandatory election periods (AEP [Annual Enrollment Period], ICEP [Initial Coverage Election Period and Initial Enrollment Period for Part D] and SEP [Special Enrollment Periods]), an MA organization has the option to voluntarily close one or more of its MA plans to OEP [Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)] or OEPI [Open Enrollment Period for Institutionalized Individuals] enrollment requests.  If an MA plan is closed for OEP and OEPI enrollments, then it is closed to all individuals who are making OEP or OEPI enrollment requests for that plan.  [However, a]ll MA plans must accept OEP and OEPI disenrollment requests, regardless of whether or not it is open for enrollment."


A little background on the MA OEP

The MA OEP was implemented in 2019 and, as noted by CMS:

"The 21st Century Cures Act eliminates the existing MA disenrollment period [MADP] that currently takes place from January 1st through February 14th of every year and, effective for 2019, replaces it with a new Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (OEP) that will take place from January 1st through March 31st annually."

The OEP will allow people “enrolled in an MA plan, including newly MA-eligible individuals, to make a one-time election to go to another [Medicare Advantage] plan” - or to leave their Medicare Advantage plan, join a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan, and return to Original Medicare Part A and Part B."

"For example, an individual enrolled in an MA-PD plan may use the MA-OEP to switch to:

(1) another MA-PD plan;
(2) an MA-only plan; or
(3) Original Medicare [Part A and Part B] with or without a [stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan] PDP.

The MA-OEP will also allow an individual enrolled in an MA-only plan to switch to:

(1) another MA-only plan;
(2) an MA-PD plan; or
(3) Original Medicare with or without a PDP."

"However, this enrollment period does not allow for [Medicare] Part D [PDP] changes for individuals enrolled in Original Medicare, including those with enrollment in stand-alone PDPs."


Reminder about the timing of your enrollment or dis-enrollment during the MA OEP

When you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan, the dis-enrollment begins the first day of the next month after dis-enrollment.

For example, if you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan on February 10th, your Original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage begins on March 1st. At the same time, you can also join a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and your new Medicare prescription drug plan will also start on March 1st.


Reminder about your automatic SSA premium deductions

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will probably need a little time adjusting your Social Security check deductions if you decide to use the MA OEP. So if you dropped (or changed) your Medicare Advantage plan in January during the MA OEP and joined another Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan (PDP), you may still see payments for your old Medicare Advantage plan deducted in February and maybe even March, then in April, any over-payments from the February and March Medicare Advantage plan premiums will be reversed and the February and March premium payments for your newly chosen Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan deducted from your Social Security check.


The Medicare Advantage Plan Trial Right

If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan or Programs of All‑inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at age 65, and within the first year of joining, you decide you want to switch to Original Medicare - you will have a you have a guaranteed issue right to join any Medicare Supplement that is available in your state.


Trial Right (Part II) - You have a guaranteed issue right if...


You dropped a Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (or to switch to a Medicare SELECT policy) for the first time, you have been in the Medicare Advantage plan less than a year, and you want to switch back to your Medicare Supplement (or Medigap plan). You have the right to buy the Medigap policy you had before you joined the Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare SELECT policy, if the same insurance company you had before still sells it.  (If your former Medigap policy is not available, you can buy Medigap Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L that is sold in your state by any insurance company.)

Sources include:

CMS Finalizes Policy Changes and Updates for Medicare Advantage and the Prescription Drug Benefit Program for Contract Year 2019 (CMS-4182-F)
https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-finalizes-policy-changes-and-updates-medicare-advantage-and-prescription-drug-benefit-program


Medicare Managed Care Manual, Chapter 2 - Medicare Advantage Enrollment and Disenrollment, Updated: August 19, 2011 (Revised: November 16, 2011, August 7, 2012, August 30, 2013,August 14, 2014, July 6, 2015, September 1, 2015, September 14, 2015, December 30, 2015, May 27, 2016, August 25, 2016,June 15, 2017 & July 31, 2018) 
https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Eligibility-and-Enrollment/MedicareMangCareEligEnrol/Downloads/CY_2019_MA_Enrollment_and_Disenrollment_Guidance.pdf






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Tips & Disclaimers
  • The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan data on our site comes directly from Medicare and is subject to change.
  • Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information on our site.
  • We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • We are an independent education, research, and technology company. We are not affiliated with any Medicare plan, plan carrier, healthcare provider, or insurance company. We are not compensated for Medicare plan enrollments. We do not sell leads or share your personal information.
  • Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Our PDP-Compare.com and MA-Compare.com provide highlights of annual plan benefit changes.
  • The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan.
  • Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.
  • We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Members may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan only during specific times of the year. Contact the Medicare plan for more information.
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
  • Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.