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What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) in 2020?

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) in 2020?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) in 2020 may let you switch plans. This enrollment period runs from January 1 – March 31 every year. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  • If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • You can drop your Medicare Advantage and return to traditional Medicare, and then sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
  • You generally can’t make other coverage changes during this period. For example, if you have traditional Medicare, Part A and Part B, you typically can’t sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Discouraged that you’re stuck with a less-than-perfect plan for another whole year? Unhappy with your network doctors or pharmacies? This  be one of the reasons the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. If you’re thinking of making a change, this may be the perfect time to check out your options for 2020 Medicare Advantage plans. 

What is the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) in 2020?

If you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you have the opportunity to comparison-shop Medicare Advantage plans for 2020 and make a change in the new year. This Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period began in 2019, and continues in 2020.

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) begins on January 1 each year and ends on March 31. This open enrollment period replaces the old Medicare Advantage disenrollment period that ran from January 1 through February 14. The MA OEP also gives you an opportunity to switch Medicare Advantage plans.

What changes can I make during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period in 2020?

If your Medicare Advantage plan isn’t serving your needs, you may want to compare the plans available in 2020 and change to a different one.

  • During the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you can switch Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Or, if you decide Medicare Advantage isn’t the best choice for you, you can drop your Medicare Advantage coverage and go back to in Original Medicare.
  • You can also make changes to your Part D prescription drug coverage in certain situations:
  • If you have Medicare Advantage without prescription drug coverage, and you switch to a Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan.
  • If you drop Medicare Advantage altogether, and go back to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). You can then enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan during this open enrollment period.

Note that you must be currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage to make any changes in coverage during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), the new open enrollment period doesn’t apply to you.

If you want to switch from Original Medicare to one of the new Medicare Advantage plans for 2020, you’ll need to make changes during one of the enrollment periods described below. You also can’t use the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period to switch between stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

When else can you enroll in Medicare Advantage plans in 2020?

This open enrollment period may give you another chance to make Medicare coverage changes, in addition to the times listed below. You can’t change Medicare Advantage plans anytime you want, in most cases.

Usually you can only add, drop or change Medicare Advantage plans or Medicare prescription drug plans during:

  • Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period or Medicare Advantage Initial Coverage Election Period (October 15 to December 7 each year)
  • A Special Enrollment Period, if you qualify for one
  • A 5-star Special Enrollment Period for a Medicare health or prescription drug plan

Read more about Medicare Advantage enrollment periods

What’s new for 2020 Medicare Advantage plans?

There have been some changes underway for the Medicare Advantage program. Late in 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a new slate of benefits for companies offering Medicare Advantage plans. Because the rule was passed so late in the year, few insurers had time to work the new benefits into their 2019 Medicare Advantage plans.

However, some insurance companies may be adding these new home health and wellness benefits to some of their Medicare Advantage plans for 2020. The new benefits focus on keeping you safe and healthy at home and may include one or more of the following:

  • Caregiver support with coverage for custodial home health care and respite care
  • Benefits for in-home meal delivery
  • Non-medical transportation between home and the doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy
  • Yearly allowances for home safety equipment such as bath and shower pull bars
  • Monthly or yearly allowances for over-the-counter medications and devices such as blood pressure cuffs or reading glasses
  • Expanded telehealth benefits to help you get health care at home
  • Coverage for alternative therapies such as acupuncture
  • Wellness benefits such as gym memberships and fitness classes

Not all 2020 Medicare Advantage plans will have the new benefits, and there may be benefit caps and other rules that apply for those that do. For example, plans may limit the non-medical transportation to 20 trips a year and require you to use certain providers before benefits apply.