When, why, and how to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans have been steadily increasing in popularity for nearly two decades. After hearing about the added benefits and options, you may be wondering how you can enroll. Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan is fairly easy, but you can’t enroll any time you want. It’s important to know, not only when to sign up for Medicare Advantage, but also how to make the best choice to fit your unique medical and financial needs. Read on to understand when, why and how to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Prefer to speak with someone? If you have any questions about Medicare or need assistance with enrollment, give us a call any time to speak with one of our licensed Advisors. 

When can you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?

You cannot enroll in a Medicare advantage plan anytime you want. There are specific enrollment periods during which you can switch to a Medicare Advantage plan—either from another Medicare Advantage plan or from Original Medicare. Here are the Medicare Advantage enrollment periods you need to know.

Initial Coverage Election Period

When you initially sign up for Medicare, you’re able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. For most people, this period is the same as their Initial Enrollment Period, which is a 7-month window that begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday, includes your birthday month and extends until three months after your birth month. If you sign up for Medicare after you turn 65, however, then your Initial Coverage Election Period begins three months before your Part B coverage takes effect. 

Annual Enrollment Period

Annual Enrollment occurs every year, between October 15 - December 7. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries are able to sign up for Medicare Advantage for the first time, switch their Medicare Advantage plan, or disenroll from Medicare Advantage to switch back to Original Medicare. During this time, you’ll likely receive several messages from Medicare professionals encouraging you to compare your coverage with the various plans available to you. Each year plans can change. Additionally, other plans and benefits may become available. This means it’s a good idea to confirm you’re on the best plan to fit your needs, but always be sure to check that your doctors, prescriptions, and services are covered. 

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period

The Annual Enrollment Period can be overwhelming for some seniors, who receive several messages about new benefits for its duration. Every year plans and price options change so it can be difficult to figure out if you’re on the right plan or should switch to receive coverage that better fits your needs. You may find that you’re unhappy with the plan you chose during Annual Enrollment. Luckily, you can switch back to Original Medicare or choose a new Medicare Advantage plan during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, which lasts from January 1 - March 31. 

Why Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage enrollment has seen significant growth pretty much since it was renamed from Medicare+Choice in 2003.

Medicare beneficiaries may choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for several reasons, including:

  • Many plans have low or $0 monthly premiums

  • They have out of pocket limits to for financial protection

  • Some have added dental, vision, and hearing coverage

  • Some come with added benefits, including fitness benefits

  • They often come with prescription drug coverage included

  • Some plans come with savings in the form of a Part B Premium Reduction

Enrollment rates are rising for Medicare Advantage plans. Before you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure you understand the disadvantages of Medicare Advantage. Also be sure you the plan you choose covers your doctors and prescriptions. These plans sometimes come with limitations that their beneficiaries aren’t fully aware of—and it’s safe to say no one likes a surprise bill from the doctor. 

How to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan

Most people with Medicare Advantage plans enroll in their plan through a Medicare Advantage advisor

There are different types of advisors, including captive advisors, who work for one insurance provider, and independent advisors who work with a number of insurance providers.

Chapter Advisors are licensed and independent, but we take it a step further by not limiting our recommendations to providers we have contracts with. This means we compare every single option to ensure you have the absolute best Medicare plan for you. Your medical and financial needs are unique to you, and the advice you receive should be too. Call us today to discuss your Medicare needs with one of our Advisors.

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