Can I Get Out of My Medicare Advantage Plan?

Many people, once they sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, ask this question. While Medicare Advantage plans seem appealing at the outset, with their lower premiums, there are some definite “disadvantages”. Although they can be the right choice for some people, some of the disadvantages, such as lack of doctor choice, out of pocket costs, and constant plan changes, make these plans frustrating for some. And, when that happens, some people ask the question: “When can I get out of my Medicare Advantage plan?”

The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think it would be. With Medicare Supplement plans and most other types of insurance, you can simply cancel the plan when you no longer want or need it. However, with Medicare Advantage, it’s not that simple. These plans work on a calendar-year basis, so once you’re in, you’re typically in for the year.

That said, Medicare has established a new Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). This period runs from January 1, 2011 to February 14, 2011. During this period, you can NOT enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan (unless you fall into a special set of circumstances); however, you can disenroll from your current Advantage plan. After disenrolling, you can return to “original” Medicare. Then, you have the option of adding a Medicare Supplement plan to supplement your Medicare coverage.

Medicare Supplement plans, contrary to Medicare Advantage plans which replace Medicare, fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. With Medicare Supplement, you pay the monthly premium; then, if you have the top level plan (Plan F), you don’t have any co-pays, deductible or coinsurance to pay out of your pocket. There are also some new Medicare Supplement plans, including Plan N. Plan N is lower-priced (often similarly priced with some of the Advantage plans) and it is very similar to the more comprehensive plans at the hospital. The difference is that you have a small $20 co-pay at the doctor’s office and a $50 co-pay at the emergency room. Plus, you do have to meet the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $162/year.

If you have questions about this new Medicare Advantage disenrollment period or want to evaluate what options are available to you if/when you DO leave your Advantage plan, I recommend (whether it’s us or someone else) speaking to an independent brokerage. They can explain the ramifications of whatever choices you are considering, to ensure that you make the choice that is right for you. You can contact us at 877.506.3378 or at Medicare Supplement quote.