How to Change Your Medicare Coverage | Medicare Made Clear

You can get your Medicare coverage through the federal government or a private insurance company.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is administered by the federal government. Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) are an alternative to Original Medicare offered by private insurance companies.

Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare supplement insurance plans are also offered by private insurance companies. These plans may be added to Original Medicare.

When Can I Change My Medicare Coverage?

Switching Between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage

To leave Original Medicare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, all you need to do is sign up for the new plan. You don’t have to tell Original Medicare about the change. 

Most Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage. You may choose to drop your stand-alone drug plan if you have one and your new Medicare Advantage plan includes the coverage. This may happen automatically, but it’s a good idea to notify the plan that you want to disenroll.

You can switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare by notifying the plan that you want to disenroll. Your coverage will automatically revert to Original Medicare.

Adding Coverage to Original Medicare

If you go back to Original Medicare, you may want to add a stand-alone prescription drug (Part D) plan. Original Medicare does not provide drug coverage. Note that you cannot be without creditable drug coverage longer than 63 days without incurring a premium penalty when you join a drug plan.

Medicare supplement insurance may be a consideration depending on changes you make during Medicare Open Enrollment.

  • When switching to Original Medicare, you may want to add a Medicare supplement insurance plan to help with some costs that Original Medicare doesn’t pay. 
  • When switching to a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to drop your Medicare supplement insurance plan, since the two can’t be used together. 

You must contact the insurance company directly to join or drop a Medicare supplement insurance plan. Note that you may not have a guaranteed right to buy a Medicare supplement insurance plan outside of the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment Period. This period starts when you are 65 and have Medicare Part B. It lasts for 6 months. You could be charged more or denied coverage if you want to buy a plan after this time period, even if you had a plan before and dropped it. Be sure to check the laws in your state.

Medicare supplement insurance or Medicare Advantage?

Both may help with some costs that Original medicare (Parts A and B) doesn't pay. How do you decide which might be right for you?

Get help deciding... >

Switching to a Different Private Medicare Plan

To change from one Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan to another, you can just sign up for the new plan. Typically, you are automatically disenrolled from your old plan. Still, you may want to notify the old plan about the change for good measure.