Yes, you can switch between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare but only during certain times of the year.
Individuals can switch between the two types of plans during open enrollment which runs from October 15 through December 7 annually. If using this enrollment period, the policy will become effective on the first of the following year.
New 2019 Enrollment Period
A new enrollment period will take place beginning in 2019 which runs from January 1 through March 31. During this period the following changes can be made:
- A switch can be made from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B with an option to purchase Medicare Prescription Drugs Part D.
- A switch can be made from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
Special Enrollment Periods
For certain circumstances special enrollment periods will apply. These circumstances include the following:
- Moving out of a plan’s area of service
- Losing creditable coverage
- Losing a Medigap plan because it discontinues service in your area or they stop following Medicare rules
- Switching from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare with Medigap *
- Switching from Original Medicare with Medigap to Medicare Advantage and back to Original Medicare with Medigap.**
*The first time an individual enrolls in Medicare Advantage, he or she can switch back to Original Medicare within the first 12 months.
**If the original Medigap plan is still available, you are limited to switching back to this plan.
**Protection because of pre-existing conditions is only good the first time an individual switches back to a Medigap plan and only if it is within 12 months of leaving the plan.
Medicare Advantage Vs. Original Medicare
The cost of the premium for Medicare Advantage is generally lower than the combined costs of premiums for Original Medicare, Medicare Part D, and Medigap. However, all out-of-pocket expenses could run higher with Medicare Advantage. In addition, with Medicare Advantage the provider network will likely be more limited.