UNITED STATES—Hello Toni: I recently attended a Medicare Advantage meeting because my Medicare Supplement Plan F is costing me $180 a month and was going to join. A friend introduced me to your articles explaining the different Parts and Plans of Medicare. Now I am having second thoughts.

My question is if I change to an Advantage plan and find out in a few months it’s not working for me.  1) Can I return to regular Medicare and apply for a new Medicare supplement? 2) Will I be able to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan for prescriptions. Thanks, Stephanie from Kingwood, TX.

Hi there: Yes, Stephanie you can return to Original Medicare, but your window of time is small (only 45 days). Whether you can be accepted by a new Medicare Supplement is another issue because you now may have to answer health underwriting questions to qualify.

Medicare only gives someone who changes to a Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare Open Enrollment period 45 days (from January 1 to February 14) to find out if the new Part C Medicare Advantage plan is what they want. This time is called the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period or MADP in Medicare terms. (Medicare Open/Annual Enrollment rules are explained in chapters 4 and 6 of Toni’s Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition).

You can only dis-enroll from your current Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare only and enroll in a standalone Part D Medicare Prescription Drug plan. That answers your question about enrolling in a new Part D plan when you leave your new Medicare Advantage plan after January 1.

You would think that Medicare would give you time to tryout a new Medicare Advantage plan…but Medicare doesn’t!!

Stephanie since you currently have a Medicare Supplement, you may consider not cancelling your Medicare Supplement until after February 14 to be sure you’re satisfied with your new Medicare Advantage plan; this is especially important if you have a health issue.

To get out or dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage plan after February 14 you cannot because you are “locked in” and will have to wait until the next Medicare enrollment period, which should be October 15 of the next year. You can then dis-enroll and make a change with January 1 of the next year as a new start date.

At the Toni Says® office, we always advise a Toni Says® Medicare client to call all their doctors to see which Medicare Advantage plans the healthcare professional/facility accepts.

One thing to be aware of is that the doctor can also stop taking a Medicare Advantage plan in the middle of the year. If you find a Medicare Advantage plan that you like, and your doctor is not in the plan, then you might have to change doctors to use that plan.

Since you are spending about $180 on a Medicare Supplement and want something less expensive with the same access to doctors that accept “Original Medicare,” there may be a less expensive option. You might consider shopping for a different, less expensive Medicare supplement such as plan G or even plan N.

Stephanie, your Medicare Open Enrollment time is ticking and changing to a different Medicare Supplement takes time because you must now answer health questions.  Changing to a Medicare Advantage plan has very few health questions to qualify.

Call the Toni Says® office at 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com to have your Medicare questions or concerns answered. Visit www.abbs4u.com and attend ABBS (American Baby Boomer Society) Medicare courses for more Medicare education.

Toni King the author of Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced is offering a Medicare Open Enrollment $5 book special for Toni Says® newspaper article readers at www.tonisays.com.