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When can I enroll in Medicare Advantage?

Maryalene LaPonsie | September 17, 2015

Answer:  Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans offer seniors and other eligible individuals additional options for their medical coverage. Medicare Advantage plans are health insurance plans offered through private companies and often include additional services, such as dental and vision. However, if you want to enroll in Medicare Advantage, you need to plan ahead.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a government agency, you can only enroll in Medicare Advantage during one of the following times:

  1. When you turn 65 years old. Enrollment for Medicare Advantage can happen during the three months leading up to your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday and the three months after your birthday. For example, if your birthday is in July, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan anytime from April through October during the year you turn 65.
  2. If you become Medicare-eligible because of a disability. You can enroll in Medicare Advantage during the period of 21 to 28 months after you become disabled.
  3. During the annual open enrollment. For 2016, Medicare recipients can join, drop or switch their Medicare Advantage coverage from October 15-December 7. Your medical coverage will begin on January 1, 2016 and remain in effect for the calendar year.

The Medicare Advantage disenrollment period (MADP) runs from January 1 to February 14 each year. During this time, Medicare Advantage enrollees can opt to switch back to original Medicare, and can then sign up for Medicare Part D as well.

Finally, there is one exception to these enrollment periods. Because most Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for a specific geographic region, you can change your medical coverage if you move to an area not served by your current plan.

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