Starting 2019, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) restored the Medicare Advantage (MA) Open Enrollment Period (OEP). The MA OEP will begin January 1 and run through March 31 of each year. Medicare Advantage members are allowed to make a one-time election to switch to another Medicare Advantage Plan (with or without Part D drug coverage) or to return to Original Medicare (with or without Part D drug coverage).

What, when, who?

When is OEP?
January 1 through March 31 each year.
For newly MA-eligible individuals, the OEP occurs the first 3 months in which they have both Part A and Part B.

Who can use OEP?
Individuals enrolled in an MAPD plan or an MA-only plan.

What changes can be made during OEP?
Individuals enrolled in an MAPD plan can use the OEP to make a one-time change to a different MAPD plan, an MA-only plan, or Original Medicare (with or without a PDP).
Individuals enrolled in an MA-only plan can use the OEP to make a one-time change to a different MA-only plan, an MAPD plan, or Original Medicare (with or without a PDP).

Special Note: Do not confuse OEP with AEP! The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15 – December 7 each year and allows you to make changes to your Medicare plan.

Example 1: MAPD to MAPD

Janet is 67 and has been a part of Medicare Advantage plan ABC in her area for the since she turned 65. She decides to switch to plan XYZ during the Annual Enrollment Period in December. February comes around and she decides she would really like to go back to plan ABC, so she contacts her agent and they complete and turn in the application February 10th. Her new ABC coverage would then start the following month, March 1, with ABC plan and the XYZ plan would automatically be dropped.

Example 2: MAPD to Original Medicare and a Prescription Drug Plan

Becky has lived in the same area for years and finally decided to purchase the second home she always wanted. The only issue is that she not able to stay within her MAPD HMO plan because she will be living in both house for parts of each year and would like to have a doctor in the new location. She decides that for until her and her agent decide which Medicare Supplement plan would be right for her, she will drop her Medicare Advantage plan on April 1 and enroll into a Prescription Drug plan and Original Medicare.