Whoops! You’ve just glanced at the calendar and realized you’ve missed the Medicare Annual Election Period, which closed on December 7. And as you probably know, those who don’t make changes to their Medicare plans during AEP will be simply re-enrolled into their current plans. But what if you aren’t extremely satisfied with your current healthcare arrangement? Or maybe you’re curious about finding a plan with lower premiums or a different provider network?

Luckily, you do have some other options to change your Medicare plan, depending on your situation.

From January 1 to March 31, those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans can participate in the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. During this time, you can compare different Advantage plans and switch to a different one if you find another that suits you better. Or, if you’d prefer to drop your Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you can also take that step. If you do return to Original Medicare, you will be able to enroll in a Part D plan at this time, too.

But there’s one thing you can’t do during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: Those enrolled in Original Medicare cannot change to an Advantage plan. So if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare but would like to investigate your other options, you will need to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

A Special Enrollment Period might be open to you at any time of year, if you experience a qualifying life event. Events such as moving to a new area, moving into or out of a nursing home, or becoming diagnosed with certain chronic medical conditions can qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. Many other conditions might also allow you this opportunity, so give us a call if you experience any changes during the year.

If you don’t qualify for Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment or a Special Enrollment Period, you probably will have to wait until next year’s Annual Enrollment Period to make changes to your plan. Mark the date of October 15 on your calendar so that you don’t forget, and stay in touch with us in the months ahead of time so that you can learn about all of the options available to you.