With the recent conclusion of the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), which ended December 7, many people are asking when, or how, can I get out of my Medicare Advantage plan. Although most changes to coverage are made during the AEP period, which is over for 2012, there are other options.
The most imminent option for getting out of your Medicare Advantage plan is the upcoming Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). This period runs from January 1 through February 14 in 2013. During this period, you can disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and return to “original” Medicare Parts A & B. In doing so, you would be eligible, if you can qualify medically, to pick up a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan and a stand-alone prescription drug (Part D) plan.
The process for doing so is somewhat complex, so you should either work with an agent who knows what he or she is doing or follow the instructions below.
First and foremost, you should apply for the supplement plan with either a February 1 or March 1 effective date. Approval on a Medigap policy can take 2-3 weeks to complete underwriting. So it is important to do this well in advance of when you want the plan to start. For example, if you want to make the changeover effective 2/1/13, apply early in January for the supplement (or even during the last couple weeks of December). Once your Medigap plan is approved, you can proceed with returning to Medicare with a Part D plan. The easiest way to do this is to call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE) and select a Part D plan, while at the same time disenrolling from your Medicare Advantage plan. You cannot have both a Part D plan and a Medicare Advantage plan, so this changeover can be done within the same phone call. Make the changeover effective either 2/1/13 (if doing it in January) or 3/1/13 (if doing it between 2/1 and 2/14).
By following the instructions above, you can successfully get out of your Medicare Advantage plan during the MADP period. Note that you should never cancel your Medicare Advantage until you know that you are accepted into a Medigap plan.