Switching from Medicare Advantage (MA) to Original Medicare, also called Part A and Part B, is an easy process. You just have to know when you can do it. You can typically return to Part A and B during the Open Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7) and Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (January 1 to February 14) each year.
How to Go Back to Part A and Part B and/or Add Part D
Whether you disenroll from your Advantage plan, also called Part C, during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) or Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP), there are a couple of ways you can return:
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask the phone representative to disenroll you from your Part C plan. Once you disenroll, you will automatically join Part A and Part B.
- Call your plan and ask for them to disenroll you. If you choose to leave your plan this way, it may take longer for your disenrollment to be processed.
It’s important to remember that Part A and Part B doesn’t cover prescription drugs. You may want to consider joining a stand-alone Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage) plan when you leave your Advantage plan. If you don’t have creditable drug coverage for 63 days in a row, Medicare can penalize you.
Since Part D is provided by private insurance companies, you will need to join a plan from one of these companies. You may be able to do this by doing any of the following:
- Joining online on the plan’s website.
- Requesting a paper enrollment form from the plan, filling it out and returning it.
- Calling the plan.
- Calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
When Will Your Coverage Start?
When you request to disenroll from your plan, your disenrollment likely won’t be effective immediately. In fact, it should become effective the first month after you request to disenroll from the plan. If you request to disenroll on February 1, you will officially leave your plan on March 1.
Make sure you know exactly when you will be officially disenrolled from your plan. Otherwise, you might run into coverage trouble. If you are in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan or a Special Needs plan, you may not be covered if you see a provider outside of your plan’s network before your plan ends. If you another type of plan, you may have to pay more for seeing out-of-network providers.
Special Enrollment Periods
The OEP and MADP may not be the only periods of time in which you can switch from Advantage to Original. You may have a Special Enrollment Period, or a special circumstance, which allows you to drop your MA plan at other times during the year. For example, you may be able to leave it and return to Original if you joined Advantage for the first time within the past 12 months after dropping your Medigap plan.