A senior couple looks over their Medicare plan options on a laptop.

Changing your Medicare plan

You can change Medicare plans to meet your needs

Life often changes. Fortunately, your Medicare coverage can change with it. If you’re ready to explore new Medicare options, you may be able to switch to a different plan.

Why change Medicare plans?

Sometimes the coverage you chose when you first enrolled in Medicare may not be what’s best for you now. You might be planning for a surgery, experiencing changes in your lifestyle or adjusting your budget to better manage health care costs. Or maybe you recently moved to a new area or there were changes to your current plan’s coverage, like which doctors or specialists are in network.

The best time to switch your Medicare plan depends on your situation and the kind of coverage you have. Review the enrollment periods and special circumstances below to find the right time to make a change.

Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) – October 15 to December 7

Each year during the AEP, you can make changes to your Medicare coverage for the following year. You can:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost or standalone Part D plan.
  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost or standalone Part D plan for the first time.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost or standalone Part D plan and go back to Original Medicare. You can then choose to apply for a Medicare Supplement plan.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period – January 1 to March 31

Have a Medicare Advantage plan? Then during the annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you can:

  • Switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare. You can then choose to join a standalone Part D plan.

Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs)

Certain life events may qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period when you can change your Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Cost plan, Medicare Supplement plan or standalone Part D plan. Examples of these events include:

  • Moving outside of your current plan’s service area
  • Your plan ending, ceasing to serve the area where you live or significantly reducing its provider network
  • Qualifying for assistance from the Medicare Extra Help program

You become eligible for Medicare and Medicaid

If you have Medicaid (called Medical Assistance in Minnesota) and are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, you can enroll in a plan that combines your coverage. In Minnesota, this plan is called Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO), and it includes medical, Part D prescription drug, dental and long-term care coverage, plus extra benefits.

You can enroll in or change an MSHO plan:

  • When you become eligible for both Medical Assistance and Medicare Parts A and B
  • Once each quarter (January through September)
  • During annual open enrollment (October 15 through December 7)

Generally, the plan will be effective the first day of the month after you enroll. If you sign up during the Annual Enrollment Period, your plan will be effective January 1 of the next year.

How to change your Medicare plan

If you want to look at new plans with your same insurance provider, you can usually compare plans online or call their team. At HealthPartners, it’s easy to review Medicare plans online.

If you want to see options from different health insurance providers, you can either contact them directly or work with a broker to get a consolidated list of your options. You can also use Medicare’s plan finder at Medicare.gov .

Once you’ve found the best plan for your needs during an enrollment period, in most cases you can go ahead and sign up through that plan’s website or at Medicare.gov . You can also call the plan to find out about other ways to enroll, like by mail or phone. If you’re working with a broker, they can also help you with the sign-up process.

When your enrollment in your new plan is complete, don’t forget to contact the provider of your current (soon-to-be-old) plan and give them the date when you’ll be switching over.

HealthPartners Medicare plans offer affordable options for every lifestyle and budget. You get the benefits you really need – plus extra perks that add even more value.

Legal information

Last updated October 2023

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