2014 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period

Medicare Advantage Disenrollment

Normally, opportunities to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan are limited to two annual periods: the Oct. 15-Dec. 7 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) and the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.

If you did not disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan during last fall’s Medicare Open Enrollment and wish to do so now, you should take advantage of the current Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), which began Jan. 1 of this year and will continue until Feb. 14.

Whether you joined a new Medicare Advantage plan during the 2013 OEP or simply chose not to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan you were already enrolled in, you can disenroll from Medicare Advantage until Feb. 14, 2014.

You have three options to consider during the MAPD:

  • Returning to Original Medicare
  • Applying for a Medicare supplement
  • Enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan

During the Jan.1-Feb. 14 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, you may not:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from one stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to another stand-alone drug plan

It is important to keep in mind that the MADP is designed to allow you to disenroll from Medicare Advantage. It does not provide the option of enrolling in a new Medicare Advantage plan. As a result, if you decide to disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage plan, you must be prepared to return to Original Medicare. If you decide to leave Medicare Advantage in order to return to Original Medicare, it is highly advisable to look into Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans, which are designed to help fill the many gaps in Original Medicare coverage.

It is important to look at Medigap options before disenrolling from your current plan. If you choose to leave your Medicare Advantage plan during the MAPD, you should apply for a Medicare supplement early enough to learn whether your application is accepted prior to Feb. 14. Getting a free Medicare supplement insurance quote is an excellent way to start.

Unless you are prepared to be insured only by Original Medicare, you should not drop your Medicare Advantage plan until you are certain you will be able to get a Medicare supplement policy to replace it. Also, keep in mind that, because Medigap plans do not include drug coverage, enrolling in an affordable prescription drug plan is an important moneysaving step to supplement your Medicare supplement coverage. If you leave any Medicare Advantage plan and return to Original Medicare during the MAPD, you have the important option of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan..

Why consider switching from Medicare Advantage to a Medicare Supplement?

  1. Medicare supplement plans are budget-friendly, and known for being surprise-free. Your costs from month to month are easy to predict—and lower than you may think!
  2. Medicare supplements are noted for flexibility. They do not limit you to a network of healthcare providers.
  3. You are able to join a Medicare supplement plan at any time of the year. This means that if you choose to disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan during the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 MADP and qualify for a particular Medicare supplement plan, you can be assured of Medigap coverage immediately upon returning to Original Medicare.

While switching from Medicare Advantage to Medigap is a good move for many people, this does not guarantee it is the best move for you.

Unless you have Medigap guaranteed issue rights, medical underwriting is likely to apply when you apply for a Medicare supplement plan. Private insurance companies may decide to exclude you from certain Medicare supplement plans if they think you pose too great a risk. Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program can tell you whether medical underwriting will apply if you want to join a particular Medicare supplement plan during this year’s MADP.

If preexisting conditions or other medical considerations prevent you from enrolling in the Medicare supplement plan of your choice, it may be advisable to keep your current Medicare Advantage plan. The same may be true if you are looking for the lowest possible premiums—or no premiums at all—and are comfortable with the choice of providers within your plan’s network.

Changes made during the Jan. 1-Feb. 14 Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period normally take effect on the first day of the following month after change requests are received. For further information about the 2014 Disenrollment Period for Medicare Advantage, visit Medicare.gov.

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