UNITED STATES—Hello Toni: I recently attended a local Medicare Advantage informational workshop because my Medicare Supplement Plan F is costing me $260 a month and was going to join the plan. A friend introduced me to your articles explaining the various Parts and Plans of Medicare. Now I am having second thoughts.

My questions are regarding what happens if I change to an Advantage plan and find out it is not working for me after January 1st…  #1) Can I return to Original Medicare and apply for a new Medicare supplement? # 2) Will I be able to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan for prescriptions. Thanks, Theresa from Tulsa, OK.

Hi there, Theresa: Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period ends this year on Wednesday, December 7 at mid-night and those who have made changes to their Medicare Advantage Part C or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan should receive their new insurance card by Sunday, January 1, 2023.

Theresa, below are the answers to your two questions:

#1 Question: Yes, you can return to Original Medicare, but your window of time is small. The time to change your Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D (MAPD), for those that have second thoughts after December 7, is from January 1 to March 31 and is known as Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). Whether you are approved by a new Medicare Supplement is another issue because you will have to answer medical underwriting questions to qualify. Since you currently have a Medicare Supplement, you may consider not cancelling your Medicare Supplement until after March 31 to be sure you are satisfied with your new Medicare Advantage plan, especially if you have a health issue.

#2 Question: Yes. Enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan will disenroll you from your Medicare Advantage plan. During Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you can only disenroll from your current Medicare Advantage Plan and enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare only by enrolling 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 Medicare Advantage plan after January 1.

On page 72 of my Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced edition, I explain how you can disenroll from the Medicare Advantage Plan during Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) which is from January 1-March 31 each year.

During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP), you can switch from your Medicare Advantage Plan to another MA Plan, or to Original Medicare with or without a Part D plan. You can only use this period if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan not to change a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.

To disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan after March 31st, you cannot because you are in Medicare’s “lock in” from April 1 to December 31. You will now have to wait until the next Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which begins October 15 thru December 7 to change to a different MA plan or return to Original Medicare.

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

Theresa, you are spending about $260 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 supplements such as Plan G or even Plan N.

Need help understanding Medicare, so visit www.seniorresource.com where Boomer/Senior information with articles and podcasts are available. For answers to your Medicare questions/concerns, call the Toni Says Medicare team at 832-519-8664 or email info@tonisays.com.