Can I switch Medicare plans during the year?

If you’re not happy with your Medicare plan, you can switch to a different one.

To get a high-quality plan

To help you compare the quality of Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies, look at the plan’s Medicare Star Rating. Medicare rates each plan from one to five stars, with five being the highest rating. The rating is based on plan performance in several categories, including member experience and quality of care.

The good news is if you want to switch to a 5-star plan in your area, you can do it one time between Dec. 8 and Nov. 30.

Related content: How your Medicare plan is like a 5-star hotel

Every year

Each year, between Oct.15 and Dec.7, you can change your Medicare plan – like switching to a new one. This plan will cover you beginning Jan. 1 of the following year. This is called the annual enrollment period. You usually can’t make changes to your plan outside of this window unless you choose to enroll in a 5-star plan, or something special happens in your life or to your plan.

Related content: Practical tips from a pro: Where to get the best information about Medicare plans for you

During life changes

If certain things in your life change, you may be able to change your Medicare plan. The period of time when you can make a change is called a special enrollment period.

Examples of events that give you a special enrollment period include:

  • You move to a new address that is outside of your current plan’s service area
  • You lose your current coverage through an employer
  • You qualify for extra help paying for your plan

More info from medicare.gov

To switch from one Medicare plan to another

If you don’t have prescription drug (Part D) coverage, you can enroll in a Cost medical=only plan (no Part D) at any time, even outside of annual enrollment. You can also leave (disenroll) from a Cost medical-only plan at any time. This means you can switch from one Cost medical plan to another Cost medical plan. You can also leave a Cost plan and join Original Medicare. When you make a change to your enrollment, it’s effective the first of the following month.

tip-graphic

Not sure what kind of Medicare plan you have? You can check at medicare.gov or call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227. Your enrollment status shows the name of your plan, the type of coverage you have and how long you’ve had it.

One other note: If you have Part D drug coverage, you most likely will be locked into your plan. If that’s the case, check if one of the key times listed above might apply.

This switch is a little trickier than the others. I recommend calling the insurance company to check if you’re able to switch. The insurance company can tell you if you qualify to switch and help you enroll or disenroll.

If you want to change your plan

There are a few things you can do if you want to change your plan:

  • Contact your current health insurance company for help
  • Visit medicare.gov to see if you’re eligible to switch plans
  • Work with someone who is licensed to sell health insurance, called a broker or an agent, to help you find a new plan