Medicare coverage is not "get it and forget it." It's a good idea to make sure your Medicare coverage will meet your needs now and in the future. If your needs are changing, it's likely time to shop for a new plan.
Why switch plans?
Coverage and costs can change from year to year. Your health care or budget needs could, too. If you have a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, you should get information every fall that explains any changes in the plan's benefit coverage, costs, or service area for the next plan year. Will your plan still meet your needs after the changes take effect? If not, you should think about switching plans.
Medicare Annual Enrollment Period
You can join, switch or drop a Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). AEP is October 15 to December 7. Since it's the same time every year, you always know exactly how many shopping days you have until you can add or switch coverage during AEP.
Special Enrollment Period
Certain life changes let you change or add coverage outside your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) or AEP. This period of time is called a Special Enrollment or Special Election Period (SEP). For example, if you move out of a plan's service area you might qualify for an SEP so you can enroll in a plan available in your new area.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure you understand the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). The MA OEP lets you make a one-time election to leave a Medicare Advantage plan, switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, or go back to Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) with or without a Part D plan. You can also take advantage of the MA OEP if you're newly eligible for Medicare Part A and Part B. You can do this from January 1 through March 31, 2019.
If you choose to go back to Original Medicare, you have until March 31, 2019 to enroll in a Part D plan if you leave a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage and don't have prescription drug coverage with your new Medicare Advantage plan. You may have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you don’t enroll in a Part D plan at this time and decide to get it later.