Medicare requires that you enroll, disenroll, or make changes to your Medicare Advantage plan only during pre-determined enrollment periods.
Note: The fall 2022 Medicare open enrollment period is going on now and lasts until December 7. For many beneficiaries, this is the only time of year to make changes to their 2023 Medicare plan coverage.
Once you find a Medicare Advantage plan you wish to enroll in, you may be able to apply online or over the phone.
When you apply for coverage, you must provide your Medicare number and the dates that your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage began. These dates are listed on your Medicare card.
Find your personal situation below to determine when you can enroll in, leave or make changes to a Medicare Advantage plan.
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Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
Each person who becomes eligible for Medicare will be granted an Initial Enrollment Period where they may enroll in Medicare for the very first time.
Your Medicare IEP will begin three months before you turn 65 years old, include the month of your birthday and continue on for three additional months for a total of seven months.
Example: You turn 65 on June 5. Your Initial Enrollment Period starts on March 1 (3 full months before June) and ends September 30 (3 full months after June).
If you become eligible for Medicare before 65 due to a qualifying disability, you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan after you have been getting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits for 21 full months.
After that point, you have 7 full months to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Your coverage will begin on your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.
If you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), you are eligible for Medicare the first month you receive your disability benefits.
If you have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. You may also be able to enroll in a Medicare Special Needs Plan (SNP) that is designed to help meet your specific health care needs, if a Medicare SNP is available where you live.
The availability of Medicare Advantage plans in your area will vary and is subject to how many insurance companies offer plans where you live. There are five primary types of Medicare Advantage plans that are the most prevalent, and the availability of each type of plan will also vary based on your location.
The major types of Medicare Advantage plans include:
When comparing Medicare Advantage plans, it’s important to consider the type of plan you want, the benefits offered and the availability of plans where you live.
Medicare Advantage costs
The premiums, deductibles, copays and coinsurance costs for Medicare Advantage plans may vary from one plan to the next.
Several factors can affect your Medicare Advantage plan costs, such as:
Whether your plan offers $0 monthly premiums
The drug deductible included in your plan, if your plan offers prescription drug coverage
Any network restrictions your plan may include regarding approved providers who are in your plan network
It can be helpful to compare plans online or to call and speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare plans. You'll be able to learn about all of the costs associated with each available plan, and you can make a decision that works best for your budget.
Medicare Advantage where you live
Medicare Advantage plans can be administered on state and local levels.
Some types of plans may be available in certain regions of a state but not in others.
Some plans may come with certain premiums and other costs in one part of a state while the same plan features different costs in another county.
Some health insurance companies and Medicare Advantage plan providers may offer plans in one part of a state but not in others.
Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.
Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.
Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.
Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.
A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.
Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan doesn’t have to be a roll of the dice. This simple five-step guide can help you find the best Medicare Advantage plan for your health care needs and your budget. Read more