During the annual Open Enrollment Period, you can change Medicare Advantage plans or leave your Medicare Advantage plan and return to original Medicare Part A and Part B.
If your Medicare Advantage plan also has a prescription drug benefit (MAPD
) or you are leaving an MA-only (without drug coverage), you can return to original Medicare Part A and Part B and enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP).
Returning to a Medicare Supplement within 12 months of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan
You may be able to leave your Medicare Advantage plan and return to (or join) a Medicare Supplement if you are within the first 12-month of Medicare Advantage plan enrollment or your trial right period.
Medicare provides for two Medicare Advantage plan "trial periods" that allow you to return to a Medicare Supplement policy with guaranteed issue rights (no medical underwriting), - and, depending on where you live, your state may provide additional guaranteed issue rights for joining a Medicare Supplement.
Trial Right #1 - Joining a Medigap plan after first joining a Medicare Advantage plan
If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan (MA or MAPD) when you were first eligible for Medicare (you turned 65) and within 12 months
of joining the Medicare Advantage plan (your trial period), you decide to leave the Medicare Advantage plan, you are provided a guaranteed issue right to join any Medicare Supplement that is available in your state.
As noted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):
"[If y]ou joined a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) or Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) when you were first eligible for Medicare Part A at 65, and within the first year of joining, you decide you want to switch to Original Medicare - You have the right to buy [a]ny Medigap policy that's sold in your state by any insurance company."
If you are outside of this 12 month "trial period", you may be subject to medical underwriting (again, some states provide for more generous "guaranteed issue" rights).
Trial Right #2 - Changing back to your Medigap plan after joining a Medicare Advantage plan
If you were enrolled in a Medicare Supplement and then leave your Medigap plan to join a Medicare Advantage plan, you have a right to return to your Medigap plan (or other plan if no longer available) within the first 12 months of Medicare Advantage plan enrollment.
Also CMS allows for a "trial period" if: "[y]ou dropped a Medigap [or Medicare Supplement] policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan (or to switch to a Medicare SELECT policy) for the first time, you’ve been in the plan less than a year, and you want to switch back - you have the right to buy [t]he 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 Medicare Supplement is no longer in existence, you will be permitted to join Medicare Supplement Plan A, B, C, F, K, or L.
(Remember that Medigap Plan C and Plan F will no longer be accepting enrollments
starting in 2020.)
[Source: Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]
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