When Can I Enroll In a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Posted in Medicare Advantage

If you’re interested in joining Medicare Advantage (Part C), you may be wondering when you can enroll. Medicare has very specific times set aside for joining, switching and making changes to your coverage. Take a few minutes to read about enrollment periods and you’ll be able to meet deadlines while avoiding delays to your health care coverage.

Initial Enrollment Period in Colorado

Your Initial Enrollment Period is the 7 month period of time when you first become eligible for Medicare in Colorado. It begins 3 months before you turn 65, includes your birthday month and ends 3 months after. This is your unique initial enrollment period, when you can sign up. Typically, initial enrollment is the best time to join. But luckily, there are other times throughout the year when you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. 

Colorado Additional Enrollment Periods

Each October 15th through December 7th is Annual Enrollment. During this time, anyone in Colorado can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan. For coverage to begin on January 1, your new plan must receive your information by December 7.

Here are three other things you can do during Annual Enrollment:

  1. Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
  2. Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
  3. Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan.

Special Enrollment periods in Colorado were created for people who need to join or make changes. But, through no fault of their own, they can’t meet regular enrollment periods. For example, if you lose coverage or move out of town, you have the chance to secure other coverage. With a special enrollment period, you can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage plan.

Let’s assume you are happily enrolled in a great plan. Now you move to a new address in Colorado with better coverage available. You have 2 full months to switch plans. Here’s another example. If you were living abroad, when you return to the United States, you have a full 2 months to join a Medicare Advantage plan. And, if you lose coverage through work, (COBRA included) you generally receive 2 full months to join a plan. There are many situations where Special Enrollment applies.

Here are a few of the most common conditions that meet Special Enrollment criteria:

  1. Moving to a new address, moving back into the country or moving in or out of a nursing home or assisted living facility.
  2. Becoming ineligible for Medicaid or extra help, or losing employer coverage.
  3. If a current Part C plan is terminated by Medicare or not renewed.

Switching Between Colorado Medicare Advantage Plans

Like most seniors, you probably want the best deal in a quality Part C plan. Initial Enrollment in Colorado is the best time to sign up originally. But once you’re enrolled, Annual Enrollment (Oct 15 – Dec 7) is the time to make changes to a current plan or switch between plans.

The good news is, if you miss the Colorado December 7 deadline, you can still drop your current plan and return to Original Medicare during Medicare Advantage Disenrollment (Jan 1 – Feb 14). After returning to Original Medicare, you have until February 14 to join a prescription drug plan.

However, you can’t switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or switch between Medicare Advantage plans during this time.

Even if you’re satisfied with your existing Colorado Medicare Advantage plan, it’s smart to look over new coverage options. Comparing plans for better rates and benefits for the upcoming year is a practical way to ensure you get a plan that meets your budget and your health care needs.

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