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January 12, 2022
What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)?

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

One of the many perks of switching to a Medicare Advantage plan is that, for MA enrollees, there is a bonus enrollment period just for them. It is fittingly called the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period.

Today, we’re going to explore what that means and what the differences are between this enrollment period and the Annual Open Enrollment Period in the fall.  

What Is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, often shortened to MA OEP, is a bonus enrollment period designed specifically to allow you to change your Medicare Advantage coverage. During this period, you can switch your Medicare Advantage plan or decide to return to Original Medicare with or without a drug plan.  

It is important to note that this is not an enrollment period for joining Medicare Advantage in general. This is only for those currently enrolled in an MA plan.

To enroll in Medicare Advantage, you will need to wait until the next Annual Enrollment Period, qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, or be in your Initial Election Period (which is when you are turning 65).

Read more: Save the Date for These Medicare Deadlines 

What Can I Do During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, those with existing Medicare Advantage coverage have a few options. This is one of the times per year you are allowed to change your Medicare Advantage plan. This might be because of coverage changes, or it might be due to a change you made during the Annual Open Enrollment Period that did not meet your expectations.

If your current coverage no longer fits your needs, you are welcome to enroll into a different MA plan. When switching your MA plan during this time, you can choose plans with or without prescription drug benefits.  

If you are dissatisfied with your Medicare Advantage experience, you also have the choice to unenroll from Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare coverage. You can choose to add Part D Prescription Drug Plan coverage at this time if you wish.

If you do choose to switch to Original Medicare, you will not be able to re-enroll in Medicare Advantage until the next Annual Enrollment Period, which lasts from October 15-December 7.

If I Change My Plan During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, When Will My Coverage Change?

For those who make changes to their plans during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, those changes will go into effect at the top of the next calendar month.

For example, if you change your plan in January, those changes will go into effect on February 1.  

When Is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is from January 1 to March 31 every year.    

Are There Any Special Rules for the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period?

One of the things that makes the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period unique is that, per Medicare rules, agents are not allowed to initiate conversations about MA OEP.

Clients must ask about it before agents can assist. Think of it like a secret menu item at a restaurant. It may not be openly advertised, but it might be exactly what you’re looking for.  

Conclusion

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period is designed to help those with MA plans ensure they have their desired coverage throughout the year. This period allows current MA plan holders to alter coverage or switch back to Original Medicare.  

If you ever have questions about your Medicare plan or want to know your options, just give us a call. We are happy to help you navigate the world of Medicare and find the right coverage option for you.

Luke Hockaday
By
Luke Hockaday
Luke Hockaday is a Customer Success Rep here at Medicare Allies. Luke has been helping Medicare-eligible clients with their insurance and retirement-planning needs since 2011. Luke is passionate about 3 things, and 3 things only: senior insurance, football, and food!

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